In my opinion, Manhattan does brunch like nowhere else. It’s caught on in other places, of course, but this is still Brunch Central. My friends back in Texas get more excited about going to brunch, when they visit, than they do about going to a Broadway show.
For those of us who live here, however, brunch can be a nightmarish experience where we wait an hour to be seated, in a crowded neighborhood, squished next to other hungover New Yorkers, and be served generic Hollandaise covered eggs. The Upper West Side? The Village? The Lower East Side? Brunchapalooza.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of ALL of these unpleasant things is Adoro Lei. A modern Italian restaurant located on Hudson and Spring, it’s in that blurry area between TriBeCa and SoHo, which keeps it from being overrun by stroller-wielding brunchers. (For now.)
My friend Andrew and I had the pleasure of trying their brunch tasting menu this past Sunday. The space is beautiful, with a large wood-burning oven for their extensive pizza menu, and a funky and fun private event room in the basement. (As soon as I saw it, I started planning a “for no reason” party.) The artwork is all done by one artist, and is truly gorgeous. The bar is large, with comfortable stools and about 50 plugs running along the length of the it – which, frankly, in this age of tablets and cell phones, I don’t understand NOT having.
We were seated in a big semi-circle booth and brought plate after plate of excellent food, and round after round of well balanced cocktails. We started with a couple of shared small plates – Sliders made with veal and pork meatballs (available without the buns for the gluten-free crowd!), Rice Balls with truffle, and a truly delicious ball of Burrata – which was served on top of a slice of eggplant and drizzled with truffle honey.
We were served a couple of salads – the Chianti Kale, in which the sharpness of kale was balanced by shiitake mushrooms and spinach. If I had added grilled chicken or tuna – both of which are options – this would have been a perfect entree salad. Our second salad option, the Citrus Pear was a surprising blend of flavors. The pears are poached in prosecco, and are served with arugula, sliced almonds, and crispy prosciutto. The almonds and prosciutto add a nice crunch to a light, bright, and fresh tasting salad.
We were then brought a pasta and two pizzas – The Lover’s Purses – small pockets of pasta stuffed with artisanal cheese and pears, tossed in a brown-butter sage sauce. Sweet and light (for a pasta), this dish is a must have. The pizzas were the Boozy Bettina – a delicious, super simple cheesy pizza with a housemade “a la vodka” sauce, and the only REAL breakfast food we tried – the Special Brunch Pie – an amazing pizza topped with pancetta, mozzarella, and eggs.
The dessert we were served – the Nutella Fingers – would be a perfect brunch meal for someone seeking a sweet treat, OR, as we had it, a great finishing act. The plate had sugary fried dough, drizzled with Nutella, and served with whipped cream and berries. It was absolutely amazing.
As far as their cocktail program goes – there seems to be something for everyone, with a slight emphasis on tequila cocktails. Their featured cocktail – the Silent Assassin Punch, was delicious and tequila-y and could be slightly dangerous if bought in a punch bowl, which, obviously, is an option. There was also the Smokey Riviera (my favorite) made with mezcal, which I really can’t get enough of, the Fire Been Brought, which was a spicy tequila cocktail served in a martini glass with a chili-salted rim, and the Margarita Adoro, also made with spicy tequila, but with the addition of Campari, which I truly loved. The rye cocktail, Honey Hallucinates was balanced and delicious. For the sweet-drink lover, there was the My Frenzy, a gin and blackberry concoction, and the All Night Affair made with vodka and peach nectar and absolutely guaranteed to make all the “woo girls” in the land happily tipsy.
We had a great time at Adoro Lei, and I really highly recommend it. I will be back soon, even if I have to plan a “for no reason” party and book that private room, (which is called “Heaven Below” — love it).
For a look at all my pictures of our meal, follow me on Instagram @whitneygentile or use the hashtag #manhattandigest. Check out Adoro Lei’s official site here.