I remember the text quite clearly. “I have no idea how, but we got that Torrisi resy for tonight” popped up on my screen and I read it with mild amusement.
To be honest, as far as very first world problems go, Torrisi wasn’t number one on my list of hopefuls for the night but I’d been hearing good things and was happy to try.
Naturally, to get the hype started I looked at the menu again to further size up the occasion. No crazy twists, just a pretty humble read, including a tortellini Pomodoro. All this hype and all this attention… for that?
Let me me tell you, my dear friends of the internet, that “pomodoro” is some next level $#!t, as is the tortellini! And yes, everything else from the chanterelle pasta to the oh so tender Octopus was divine.
Torrisi: The Big Picture
Torrisi is an upscale restaurant smack in the middle of Soho. There’s definitely some intention with the vibe, tight rope walking between old school Italian joint with white coats on the waiters, and something more cozy and provencal.
It’s got atmosphere, but thankfully lacks the clubby feeling many newcomers have gone for. A guard at the door give it an almost mob movie vibe, which is always fun in New York, even if the guy was a total gent.
For the new to New York, Torrisi is not cheap, but it earns its bucks. Pastas feel very reasonable, meats get a bit up there and the drinks are helping to push that baseline dollar amount for a cocktail up another buck. Given how f**king good it is, you really shouldn’t care. It’s got a Michelin star and it actually deserves one.
The Food: Tomato Sauce On Wow
I grew up in New York and have been very lucky to travel extensively throughout Europe, and I actually live in nearby London. I’ve had every explanation of what true, authentic Italian is, from the guys in New York pizzeria’s who’ve never been to the old country, to the old men in Piedmont with their cans.
I am so glad our table ordered the Tortellini Pomodoro sauce. Eating it was genuinely a reflective moment, which lead to me interrogating our waiter about the provenance of such a next level achievement.
The flour is milled within 3 months of service, ensuring a fresh product. The Jidori eggs only add to the intensity of flavor from the pasta casing alone. The tomato sauce itself is the result of hand picked cherry tomatoes, plucked at their ripest summer form and preserved in olive oil.
To steal a cliche, the sweetness of these tomatoes was stunning. The food ethos here matches with what I’ve distilled from my lessons in inspired Italian food, which is that simplicity wins, but only when the ingredients are the best of the best. Easier said than done, but it’s being done here at Torrisi.
Much of the same narrative could apply to my lovely penne in a chanterelle cream. For those who grew up eating in take out pizza places which served pasta, to enjoy a light touch on cream but a heavy touch on real flavor is a treat.
The Octopus was among the best I’ve ever had in New York. Crisp, well spiced outside and an ever so tender inside which had to have been massaged by Novak Djokovic’s physio. The table enjoyed the chicken, which however humble it may sound, is not.
If You Had To Be Picky…
I had a pretty faultless night and enjoyed great company and outstanding food, so what more can you ask for? Torrisi is a 10/10 from me, but if I had to be picky, there’s two things I noticed, which were interesting.
One, the cocktail prices were bordering on the insane. I love mixology and a well crafted drink — and fortunately these were well made and decently strong. But, the world’s best bars don’t charge these amounts on a per cocktail basis for a basic drink.
Two — in line with many great restaurants protecting revenue and reservation integrity to combat the collective decline in society where we shamelessly cancel 7 reservations at the last minute, Torrisi adds a charge when you place your reservation on Resy, so $100 is already paid when you arrive. Our waiter was great, but when the bill came he made sure we knew that the tip should be on the total amount for the evening, and not just the remaining balance.
I absolutely get that in the food service industry being well looked after with tipping is a part of the culture we’ve created in the United States, but the overt statement rather than a neatly circled bill; or the restaurant generating an automatic tipping range that reflected the full tab put a negligible, but slightly transactional feeling on an otherwise stellar experience.
Torrisi’s hype is well earned and deserving of a Michelin star. Personally, I often prefer one star experiences like these which refine comforts, over the experimental and oft “challenging” food at two and three star spots. If you’re thinking about going, go.