This review has been a long time coming…After visiting a handful of times over the last four years, not only is Trattoria L’incontro one of the top Italian restaurants but it’s also one of THE best restaurants in the New York. I know. I’m pulling out my cajones right now. Hear me out: L’incontro has a secret formula to their fine dining experience. From the moment you sit down, plates, spoons, forks, knives , napkins emerge; Hot bread and a spread of sun-dried tomatoes gets placed right in front of you. The waiter will hand you a menu but I advise: toss dat’ shit out and wait for the specials. Peeps, it takes 5 minutes to recite (it’s pretty extensive) but I forewarn you: PAY ATTENTION. The specials are far better than the written stuff. They can change throughout the season but they keep certain dishes on rotation. Also, one thing to mention, which gains lots of respect from me, the owner and chef, Rocco is ALWAYS there. Like always. Mingling and checking in on guests. I would be skeptical if he’s still cooking but his presence is super important to his restaurant’s image. It’s like he said to me one day, “it would be like an orchestra without it’s conductor” when I asked why he was always there. They shut down for two weeks every year and everyone including Rocco goes on vacation. Than they’re back in business for the rest of the year (they’re only closed on Mondays). What happens when he’s sick? Who knows.
Before I continue to rave, I will note, their desserts are kind of lacking in retrospect to their other menus. Not that’s it bad or terrible (it’s quite the opposite) but it doesn’t live up to the taste and quality of other dishes. I’ll (shamefully) admit, I’m a fan of their pistachio creme brulee but could it be better? Yea :/. One of the major turn offs is the pistachio color: it’s “ninja turtle green” and if you’re pistachio- dessert enthusiast, that’s a major no-no and a sign of food coloring. If you insist, it’s still pretty good and will calm a sweet tooth but wanted to give you the heads up. Pasta dishes are on the money in quality and flavor so I find it kind of strange they skimp on the pistachio, but maybe it’s just me.
Now onto the good stuff: antipasti and pasta. If you wanted to order off the whim, you can’t go wrong with their appetizers and pasta specials. First off, their Burrata is a must. I’ve had a few in my lifetime and by far, their version is the best. The consistency of the mozzarella is firm on the outside but super soft (almost liquid) on the inside. As weird as it sounds, I’m telling you this is the only you way you want to eat mozzarella. The whole thing is wrapped in prosciutto and with a few pieces of warm bread, balsamic vinegar and a glass of wine MMM! They also serve a tomato salad with basil gelato that is so weird and satisfying. To combine salad and dessert…and make it taste good… I want to say it’s almost genius. My boyfriend isn’t a fan but I’m a groupie for this dish.
I’ve never had underwhelming pasta dish at L’incontro. I’d say it’s the best thing about this place. Recently I ordered spaghetti with shrimp, pancetta and something else…Sorry mind blanked when I pulled up the picture . I mean look at this thing:
There’s pancetta, do you need to know anything else? It’s fresh, al-dente, creamy and the shrimp adds tenderness to the bite without bringing the “fish”, ya know? YOU KNOW.
The dessert won’t knock your socks off but everything else will. If you’re looking for an Italian restaurant with exceptional food, service and ambiance, look no further. Trattoria L’incontro is an Astoria gem.