Since Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, we opted to skip the crowds and the price hikes and dine on a Friday instead. After some research, I stumbled upon Dieci. Dieci, located in the East Village, serves up Japanese-inspired Italian dishes. Like most authentic Japanese restaurants in NYC, the restaurant is super tiny and only has about 4 small tables-for-two and one long bar table that seats about 10.
We arrived before our 6:15pm reservation and was able to be seated early – it was too cold to wait outside! We were offered menus and water right away – but we wanted some tea to warm up. They have quite a nice selection of teas but we both opted for some Hojicha. They make their tea in French presses and serve them in small teacups – I didn’t mind the smaller cups at all though because our waitress always made sure your teacups were full!
We started off with one of their specials of the day – the Enoki Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil ($9.00). It’s sort of textured like a cream of mushroom soup but much lighter and more fragrant. I really liked it – especially since we were both freezing from the 10 degree weather outside and it warmed us up instantly.
We decided to split a second appetizer since I’ve heard such good things about their Uni Scrambled Egg with sturgeon caviar ($18.00). I actually liked the combination of scrambled egg with caviar better but the uni was definitely fresh and not fishy. The caviar gave just the right amount of saltiness with the otherwise pretty tasteless scrambled egg. The dish size is pretty small but packs a punch in taste.
I had the Gnocchi with cod roe and crab cream sauce ($18.00) for my entree. It was so good! The cream sauce was salty from the cod roe and a bit sweet from the crab. The gnocchi was soft and pillowy, which made for a perfect combo with the light sauce. I absolutely love gnocchi with light and fragrant sauces!
The Boyfriend went with the Tagliolini with squid ink, tomato sauce and calamari ($16.00). The picture definitely does not do this dish justice at all! The tomato sauce was very sweet, which I really liked. But the highlight of the dish was the pasta – it didn’t taste or have the texture of your traditional pasta. It was bouncier and had much more mouth-feel.
For dessert, we decided on the Strawberry Compote ($8.00) with marscapone mousse and balsamic vinegar since every other dessert involved ice cream. It’s too cold for ice cream! The mousse was very smooth and the strawberries were super sweet. A great way to end an otherwise savory meal!
Service was super attentive and our teacups were always refilled with hot tea. We got new cutlery for every single course, which was a nice touch. The restaurant was consistently full during our stay and we heard they were fully booked that night and Valentine’s Day as well. I’m not surprised because the food was delicious and service was superb. I can’t wait to come back for more pillowy gnocchi and savory uni!