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Modern Venetian at All’onda

June 10, 2014

All’onda, one of the newcomers to the Union Square neighborhood, chose to describe itself as Modern Venetian.  What exactly is Modern Venetian?  I am not sure to be exact but given the buzz around the restaurant and its delicious dishes, I was ready to check it out with fork in one hand and knife in the other.

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The trick to trying a new restaurant is to go with a small group so I can truly sample all the dishes that I have had my eyes on.  Trust me, I have been studying the menu here for quite some time now.  And while pastas were what had been calling my name, you really can’t go wrong with an order the arancini with black truffles and parmesan.  What is better than fried cheesy rice balls?

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Four of us decided to share our meal and luckily, we had very similar taste buds and my companions all immediately embraced my personal top two choices from the pasta sections, the garganelli and the bucatini.  The garganelli was dressed with peekytoe crab in a citrus and tarragon sauce.  The citrus and tarragon added a light touch to the already delicate pasta.  On the other hand, the bucatini was on the richer side with a deep smoked uni sauce.  The spicy breadcrumbs on top just added a nice kick to the smokiness.

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We decided to be adventurous and try out the lumache.  What makes this shell shaped adventurous wasn’t only the fact that it featured an aged duck ragu with a bitter treviso that was tempered by the heat.  The finishing touch of a flutter of chocolate on top of the deeply colored dish wasn’t overwhelming and remained in the background for a note of depth.  Even though this was a warm dish that reminded me more of the Fall, all of us eagerly dug in and polished off the generous portion.

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For a contrast to the lumache that reminded me of the Fall was the ramp pasta.  The hand cut rombi pasta was lightly tossed with grilled ramps and asparagus, two poster children of the Spring.  Even though the flavor was very seasonal, it fell a little flat in comparison to the multitude of flavors from the other pastas.

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Even though we had originally come to try the pasta dishes, the description of the short rib stole our attention as the waiter diligently described the sous vide cooking process that resulted in a very unique texture.  The impressive dish for two arrived at our table and we were intoxicated by the beautiful smell before we even made the first cut.

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Slicing through the tender short rib revealed the texture that was more like that of pastrami.  Instead of overcooking the short rib to a dangerous stringy texture, the slices of short rib was beautifully marbled and literally melted in my mouth.  The tomato mostarda added a nice brightness that was balanced out by the lightly scented saffron risotto.

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Just because we were a hungry bunch, we also ordered a side of roasted Jerusalem artichokes in a sweet glaze.  It was a great supplement to our short rib that was disappearing at a rapid speed.

Four pastas and one short rib for two later, we were at our limits and had to sadly forgo dessert.  Walking down the short flight of stairs to the bar downstairs at the entrance, I was already envisioning a return visit on another Sunday evening for a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta.  Even though we were able to sample quite a few dishes at All’onda, I am still at a loss to describe what exactly is Modern Venetian.  Does it really matter other than fabulous new flavors and techniques married with classics in order to deliver a new neighborhood favorite?

All’onda | 22 East 13th Street, New York, NY 10003 | http://allondanyc.com/

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