Friday, June 06, 2008
Fratelli Lyon, Design District
If you like food you should eat at Fratelli Lyon. The food is good. And it's not expensive. The space is cool. Housed in the Driade showroom the restaurant is bright and airy with lots of stainless steel, orange plastic placemats and barstool seating. The stylish modern dining room provides the backdrop for imaginative Italian cuisine tempered with old-world touches. It is ingredient-fetishizing fare with a hefty list of antipasti, meats and cheeses.
The food is artistic but seldom precious, the key to its success. Standouts from the antipasti list included the eggplant capponata (top) made with raisins and pine nuts, the marinated wild mushrooms and the chicken liver crostini. A fennel and shaved Parmesan salad (above) was big enough for two and a nice starter. Chef Ken Lyon gets his mozzarella and ricotta from Vito the cheesemaker from Pompano (some of you may know the cheesy goodness from Vito's table at the Upper East Side farmer's market. The man knows his way around a curd.) That ricotta provided a creamy compliment to a dish of torta di melanzane, a dish of layered eggplant, pecorino, tomato sauce and basil. Portions are generous and the fare is hearty so plan on sharing an order of the fresh pea risotto, not too heavy, but filling nonetheless. Another impressive dish is the filet of sole lightly breaded topped with pickled onion, pine nuts and raisins. It's served at room temperature which suits the dish well, allowing its marinade of cured lemons (the chefs cures them himself) mixed with garlic, vinegar, oregano and bay leaf to douse the fish with a North African tanginess that elevates the dish to something sublime.
For dessert, you can't go wrong with the affogato, a shot of espresso poured over homemade vanilla ice cream. Oh! affogato tell you the best part: the coffee at the bottom of the dish is a perfect post-dinner elixir.