Food has always been an essential part of everyday life. Food has always been an essential part of my life. During high school and later in college, I discovered that while one culture might use the same ingredients as another, the way they use those ingredients are very different. Chinese rice is very different from Spanish rice. Cheeses that are used in Italian dishes are used in a very different way than those in Spanish dishes. Japanese curry tastes very different from Indian curry – but they both use rice, chicken and potatoes!
It became my mission to discover and taste all these different types of foods and cuisines. But I soon realized that eating out was becoming very expensive. So I tweaked my mission a little. Discovering and tasting different types of cuisines became finding delicious foods at a cheap and affordable price. I soon discovered that small and cheap restaurants could actually offer really delicious food. Sometimes, the intimacy and friendliness of a smaller restaurant can add to the charm of the food. You don’t need to be eating foie gras in a fancy restaurant every night to truly enjoy food. Really good food can be found in the most unexpected places.
First up is Da Andrea, an Italian restaurant located at 35 W13th Street. Da Andrea originally opened in 2001 in Tribeca but has since moved to Greenwich Village, in the heart of Manhattan. Da Andrea is owned and run by true Italians – their waiters still have their accents. The restaurant is small, with their largest table fitting around 10-15 people. Therefore, if you plan on arriving after 6:30PM, reservations are a must because they fill up fast!
Their menu contains fresh homemade pastas that are made on the premises. The pasta dishes, which are the highlights at the restaurant, all range from an affordable $11 to $13 each. Not one of their entrees exceed the $20 mark and their most expensive and signature appetizer is only $12. But the size of that $12 entree is enough to feed a party of four.
Their signature appetizer is the one that I sampled. Their appetizer titled Le Tigelle consists of baked by order flat buns that are served with imported prosciutto. The buns are baked the moment you order, which makes the wait time a little longer than the average appetizer. But the wait is well worth it because what is placed before you is heavenly. The flat buns are warm, soft and could be easily eaten on it’s own. However, the main star of this appetizer isn’t the flat buns. It’s the prosciutto. The prosciutto is cut to almost paper thin slices and comes in abundance. Typical prosciutto is often quite salty but the prosciutto at Da Andrea only has a slight hint of salt. It is good enough to eat on it’s own without the flat buns. Their prosciutto might be one of the best that I’ve ever had.
Next up are their pastas. The boyfriend and I tried two of their homemade pastas. Their Tagliolini al Nero consists of squid ink tagliolini with fresh clams, cherry tomatoes and white wine. Squid ink pasta is a bit harder to make than the usual pasta. The squid ink must be harvested from fresh squid and then incorporated into the dough when the pasta is made. Their squid ink pasta was fresh and had a distinct taste that is not found in boxed pastas. The fresh clams complimented the white wine sauce perfectly. The dish was clean and simple, which sometimes is the hardest status to achieve.
Their homemade Pappardelle is served with small chunks of sweet sausage and truffle oil. The sauce is a mix of a tomato and spice from the sweet sausage. The sausage made the pasta both sweet and spicy – the pasta gave your taste buds a slight kick. The homemade pasta had a bounce to the texture that is not typically found in premade or boxed pasta. I learned that homemade fresh pasta really does make a difference in how the entire dish tastes!
Both pasta dishes were served at the same time and within a few minutes after our appetizer were taken away. This leads me to believe that the wait staff had watched our progress on finishing the appetizer and put in the order accordingly because our pasta was piping hot when it arrived at the table. The wait staff was very attentive and our glasses were always refilled before they were even half empty.
Our bill came up to $60 including tip for two people, which I find a steal considering we also had a slice of Tiramisu for dessert.
I would give Da Andrea 4/5 stars because the noise level did get quite loud in the restaurant as the night wore on.