Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hallelujah White & Church

Look for the large pink neon martini glass at the corner of Church Street & White Street and make a beeline for the door. But don’t be fooled, there is so much more than just great cocktails waiting inside for you.

White & Church opened earlier this year and is the re-invention of restaurant Il Matto. The entire staff stayed on board including Chef Matteo Boglione and Mixologist Cristina Bini. They swapped out the funky furniture and design to replace it with a more comfortable luxe-rustic asthetic. Their new vision is a bar and restaurant hybrid where the drinks inspire the food menu and vice versa.  On the back wall, black & white old Italian movies play on a large projection screen as an elegant tribute to Matteo & Cristina’s homeland.

Matteo invited us to try a special tasting menu (unfortunately, The Mr had plans), but I was very curious to try this restaurant since so far all of their press coverage has focused on Cristina’s use of insects in some of her drinks.

Via de 'Neri Martini
Pappa al Pomodoro

The meal started with Pappa al Pomodoro (Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup) paired with the Via de Neri Martini (Tanquery, Pink Vermouth, Cucumber, & Pink Peppercorn). An excellent start to the meal- light, fresh and obviously made with high quality ingredients.

Next up: Fried Green Olives stuffed with pork, veal, & pistachio mortadella. If you aren’t sold by the description alone, then I don’t know what else to say to get you to try these. This is a perfect bar snack, so even if you just stop by for a post-work cocktail get an order of these puppies. Each serving comes with 8 and they are salty, poppable and neat. This was followed by the Pecorino Cheese Creme Brulee with Red Onion Marmalade and a Balsamic Reduction. A favorite dish which was brought over from Il Matto and it’s easy to see why. The sweetness of the carmelized shell and red onion make the perfect accompaniment to the savory pecorino. Never had anything like this. At this point, we are all incredibly impressed. Each dish has been such a high note that it’s hard to imagine anything that could top any of these dishes. But then came the Fried Polenta. No one at the table had ever had polenta like this- it was so light that it was almost like having fried air.
Stuffed Green Olives

Pecorino Cheese Creme Brulee

Fried Polenta

Fried Gorgonzola & Pears

And then came the Fried Gorgonzola & Pears. When you broke into the fried casing, the gorgonzola oozed out on to the plate. When combined with the martini infused poached pear, arugula salad and a touch of balsamic this combination sent me over the moon.

The Breakfast Martini
Artichoke Croquette

And if that wasn’t enough, the “Breakfast Martini” was specifically made to be “peared” with this dish. (Pear-flavored Grey Goose vodka and St. Germaine liqueur topped with black pepper and thin slices of Pecorino cheese)

Another holdover from Il Matto, next was the Artichoke Croquette with saffron sauce, burrata cheese and black truffle shavings served with a crisp white wine. If I wasn’t already convinced that I was going to need to do a revisit with The Mr very soon, this sent me over the edge since he is a black truffle fiend.

Carbonara Past Two Ways

Carbonara Pasta Two Ways: Old Fashioned Spaghetti with Contemporary Egg Ravioli served with Pinot Noir. Probably my only critique of the entire meal is that the spaghetti wasn’t that old fashioned, it also had a bit of a contemporary spin. Ha, not much of a complaint huh?

Burrata Cheese Ravioli

Burrata Cheese Ravioli with Black Truffle Sauce. Yep, we’ll be getting an order of this when we come back for sure. Although with 8 or 9 of these bad boys in a normal sized serving, this to me is a dish to be split since it is rich, a whole plate for one person could be too intense.


Tuna Steak with eggplant cream, fried artichokes, caramelized black olives and basil oil. Served with Prosecco. The artichoke threw me for a loop because it was soperfectly fried. It looked like a normal quarter of an artichoke heart, but had a hard outer shell with gave way to the soft interior.

And finally, just when we didn’t think we could eat another bite, out came dessert. Chocolate Gelato, Chocolate Fondent (flourless chocolate cake) and Rice Fritters with Chantilly Cream. I pretty much ignored the cake and gelato. That’s right, the Rice Fritter was so good that I ignored chocolate. It was kind of like fried rice pudding. Another must-try for The Mr.

Chocolate Fondent
Rice Fritters with Chantilly Cream

Food like this is why I started my food blog. This is one of the absolute best meals I have had in New York. Plates are $10-$20 which is truly a great deal considering the quality of the food, I would love to see them add a few of the small plates to their Happy Hour menu (M-F 5pm-7pm all drinks $8) so that people realize there is an amazing kitchen that accompanies the impressive cocktail offerings.

Incredibly, Matteo offers a 10 course tasting menu for only $50. He also loves putting together menus so if you want him to customize a menu for you give him a call. I plan on doing this myself so that The Mr can get a true taste of this amazing food art.

Final note of advice: If you visit the restroom- don’t be fooled, that is not a mirror!

*My meal was provided by the restaurant as part of a Press Dinner.

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