One of the ways I like to find places to eat, especially in the foodie mecca of New York City, is to jot down the restaurants owned by the participants of Top Chef Masters. That way when I want something a little more upscale, or get tasked with picking the restaurant for the evening, I already have a place to start. And it was this list, and a fortunate 7:30 opening, that landed us at Marco Canora’s Hearth.
Hearth this the type of place that offers high quality food and something for everyone. For the vegetarians, there are the pasta dishes. For those that aren’t huge meat eaters, there are interesting fish preparations. The carnivores are treated to things like Wild Bore. And the extensive wine list will satisfy any oenophile and overwhelm an amateur like myself.
While I was searching through the wine list, trying to find the perfect balance of cost, quality and complementary (anticipating what everyone may order), everyone else was working their way through the appetizer options. This combination of team work succeeded in two bottles of wine and three plates showing up at the table at about the same time.
The wine was from both Italy and France, and was chosen based on the jam consistency that would pair nicely with…ah, who am I kidding? The wine was chosen because they were grapes that I recognized and the price was around $50 a bottle. I had no idea how they would taste or pair, but trusted that they wouldn’t be on the menu unless they were delicious. And my trust was not misplaced. Both were enjoyable, easy drinking wines that were almost gone before the main courses even arrived.
Before I had finalized the wine decision, I looked down to find a shooter of a warm bean soup had been placed in front of me. It was smooth, a little salty, and a great foreshadower of things to come. Roasted mushroom trifolata with Ricotta and parmesan, and a seared octopus kicked off the meal with a delicious, earthy note. Pillowy-soft gnocchi that were possibly the lightest I’ve had, and left one wondering if they were even potato, served as a perfect palette cleanser.
The relative lightness of the appetizers gave way to the rich, heartiness of the main course. Taking an opportunity to get something I normally don’t get, I went for the wild boar ragu. It happened to be served with a housemate cocoa rigatoni pasta with sage and Parmesan. It wasn’t a visually stimulating dish with the bright popping colors of others. But for a warm, hearty, winter dish, it was just right. The flavors were deep and rich and earthy. There was a hint, just a tiny hint of chocolate on the end of each bite. I didn’t blow me away with an explosion of flavors, but it was just good.
We wrapped up the dinner with a round of desserts…basically ordering one of everything and passing them around. A sundae, a tart, and a plate of donuts made their way around the table…lingering at some places, moving quickly at others. Each providing something to like, appealing to the variety of tastes. For me, the mint chocolate sundae and the donuts were winners.
Hearth lived up to its name, providing a warm and comfortable place for us to avoid the bitter cold outside and provide a delicious dinner with friends. It wasn’t the wow of a place like Cascabel, but it was just well done and simple and rustic and absolutely enjoyable.