A Voce is one of several high-profile Madison Square Park restaurants.
My father and step mom ate here earlier in the year, and they raved, which doesn’t happen often. I knew I’d follow their lead from the moment they mentioned “duck meatballs.” The restaurant’s name roughly translates from Italian as “word of mouth.” There was an elegant crowd at Andrew Carmellini’s Italian restaurant. Prior to opening A Voce, Carmellini amassed a prestigious pedigree, including a long run at Café Boulud.
The most impressive design element was this “cypress grove” that Korean artist Soo Yun Ho created. Ho hung the stacks logs from the high ceiling, to dramatic effect. With mirrors bookending the display, it looks like a post-modern forest.
Tantalizing duck meatballs ($15) blended with foie gras and pork bathed in piquant dried cherry mostarda. Yes, they lived up to the hype.
I had so much faith in Carmellini’s cooking, I was convinced ordering the sardine fillet special was a good idea. The dish was even better than I could have imagined. Stacked fillets of cool fish paired with cippollini agrodolce, golden raisins and pinenuts, plus thin-sliced fingerling potato salad with shaved celery and capers.
Ravioli di Cavolfiore ($21) was another highly lauded plate, recently selected by USA Today’s Jerry Shriver as one of his Top 25 dishes of 2006. The supple roasted cauliflower ravioli were topped with browned cauliflower florets, brown butter, juniper and amaretti. It was one of the better ravioli dishes I remember eating, incredible, considering they contained no meat.
Hearty gnocchi featured lamb ragù, sage, and a central pool of sheep’s milk ricotta. This dish was excellent, though I’d still give cauliflower ravioli a slight edge.
We split two desserts from pastry chef April J. Robinson, both uniquely delicious. Fluffy chocolate tartino ($11) paired with caramelized roasted bananas and banana crunch gelato.
Vanilla-pineapple cheesecake ($11) was circled by diced kiwi, pineapple and mango and crowned with quince sorbetto. The tropical dessert was surprisingly light, similar in texture to a good Key lime pie.
A Voce was one of the better Italian restaurants I’ve eaten at in Manhattan. The meal was excellent from appetizer through dessert. It also wasn’t stuffy or uncomfortably fancy. Plus, the portions were large and the food hearty. The meal was expensive, but worth it, and I shall return.