Stepping into Machiavelli was like being engrossed in the pages of an historical romance. Frescoes cover the walls, heavy thrones line the area next to the bar, and wrought iron candelabras provide a lovely Renaissance glow. A long, traditionally made, mahogany banquet table sits next to the piano, and the black and white floors tie all of the richly authentic items of the restaurant’s iconic design together. Owner, Nathalie de la Fontaine spoke with passion about everything that went into creating a space that immersed you in Renaissance Italy.
Machiavelli’s menu is inspired by Chef Gian Pietro Ferro, who joined their team in March of 2015. His menu’s inspirations were seasonal specialties and traditional dishes with a modern twist. We started our meal with a couple of well executed Aperol Spritzes. The bread was brought out with a creamy cannellini bean and olive oil spread. The seating was cozy and we settled in, studying our menus. There is a wide variety to choose from for every course, and being a Renaissance-styled, Northern Italian restaurant, all the courses are represented. There’s plenty to choose from without being overwhelming.
Going into dinner, I had read up on Machiavelli and knew I had to try the Sformato di Spinaci. I’m glad I did. The sauteed spinach was buttery and vivid green. The flan underneath it was creamy, custardy, and well seasoned highlighting the fluffy ricotta. It all sits atop a creamy fontina and white truffle fonduta making this a delightful dish that could easily stand on its own as a light meal or snack. We were in for a lot more wonder. The Bresaola special was a wonderful selection served with a mache salad and a very delicate and silky goat cheese. The lemon dressing just enhanced everything on this plate.
Finishing up our cocktails, I asked my more knowledgeable date to choose a wine to go with our dinner. Our host for the evening, and manager, Tara offered some suggestions to narrow down the wine list for us. There were some favorites listed and some more obscure wines. We decided upon a bottle of Nebbiolo that wouldn’t overwhelm our next course, but would still pair well with our third.
Machiavelli makes all of their pasta in house, and they do it very well. When I asked Tara for a suggestion, she mentioned the Strozzapreti. The search is over. I’ve had “priest stranglers” before and enjoyed them. It is a thick-twisty noodle and these were cooked to perfection. A little bite left in them and a hearty mouthful the Strozzapreti were a wonderful vehicle for the broth from the broccoli rabe and Italian sausage that it was served with. The bitterness from the broccoli and the spice from the sausage provided a great accompaniment. Gluten-free fettucine and spaghetti options are also available.
Just below that on the menu is the Cacio e mele con stufato d’Agnello, a ravioli with roasted Granny Smith apples, ricotta and pecorino, dressed with sage butter and lamb ragu. This was light and airy and perfect for the fall weather. The ragu was dense and comforting and could have easily overwhelmed the feathery ravioli, but it cradled it. This dish is very well balanced and will warm you physically and emotionally.
We couldn’t just have pasta, so we decided to share the Petto d’Anatra con Fichi al Moscato. A nicely prepared duck breast, with a slightly crispy outside, sliced thin and served with fig and moscato sauce. The roast vegetables were tasty and still a little crisp. By this point, we were stuffed. Portions at Machiavelli are perfect for sharing, or keeping to one’s self.
This, of course, is only a tiny sampling of what is offered on Machiavelli’s menu. Pizza, fish, antipasti, and desserts are all available. Be sure to try the Bongo Bongo, a pair of profieroles served atop chocolate.
This is Machiavelli’s fifth year, and they have a lot to be proud of. They serve brunch, lunch, and dinner. There is live music every night, sometimes jazzy, and sometimes a little light opera. The space is perfect for celebrations or small romantic evenings. You can find more information on their website at http://machiavellinyc.com.