For those of you who regularly embark on my eating adventures with me, you’ll notice that I posted about Rafele as a good option for Christmas Eve dinner. It’s too late for Christmas Eve dinner now, but it’s never too late to pay this restaurant a visit! A quick OpenTable reservation, which I highly recommend, and you could be on your way to some delicious Naples-inspired cuisine.
Since we were four people, we opted to order three appetizers to share. But before the appetizers arrived, we were served a delicious eggplant antipasti with an assortment of bread. The eggplant dip was sweet and sour at the same time, which really helped open up our appetites.
Our first appetizer to arrive was the Gnocco Frito ($16.00), which features 24-month aged Black Label Prosciutto with Fried Dough. The prosciutto was delicious – soft, just a tad salty, and practically melted in our mouths. The fried dough tasted a bit like zeppoles without the powdered sugar. It was a very nice mix of warmth with the chilled prosciutto.
Our second appetizer was the Crostini with Duck Liver Pate ($13.00), which is served with duck liver pate, whipped ricotta cheese, and crostini drizzled with olive oil. The pate was rich and creamy and paired well with the light flavor of the whipped ricotta. The warm crostini was a perfect base for the smooth pate.
Our last appetizer was the Polpettine ($13.00), or Pan-seared Veal and Beef Meatballs in a light tomato sauce. The meatballs were tender and juicy – but a bit on the salty side. I think an order to split is the perfect portion size because if I had to eat the entire dish, I’d definitely be too full.
For my entrée, I ordered the Gnocchi Pignatiello ($16.00), which is their house-made gnocchi with melted taleggio cheese and basil in a tomato sauce. I’ve never had a cheesy, baked gnocchi before so this was a new experience. I found that I quite liked it – each bite if gnocchi was cheesy and pillowy – like eating a cloud.
My mother had the Zuppa di Pesce ($27.00), which features market seafood with tomatoes, garlic, and pepperoncino baked inside a bread dome. It comes incompletely intact and your waiter cuts the bread dome open for you. The stew comes with all sorts of goodies: large shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, and fish. It’s a very light, yet hearty meal – especially if you dip in some of their delicious pizza bread!
We didn’t order any dessert since we brought our own cake, but I would’ve loved to try out their signature cheesecake. Service was attentive without being overbearing. They brought over the cake at the end of dinner without having to be prompted, which was very nice. If you’re ever in the West Village and craving Italian food, give Rafele a try!