Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mia Dona - Donatella's Delicious Comeback

Mia Dona - 206 East 58th Street, New York NY 10022
N/W/R/4/5/6 Train to 59th and Lexington

I had a lovely dinner at Donatella Arpaia's newest restaurant, Mia Dona, with my friends, Alexis and Maya. Maya suggested it for restaurant week, and when we saw the rich menu offering, we couldn't resist. It was fun for a casual get together, but I'd steer clear if you're looking for a romantic environment.

Being a fairly new restaurant, the decor is fun and inventive. The layout is broken up into three rooms--the lounge, the living room and the library. We sat in the living room which is smack in the middle of the other two. It's a cheery room, with black and white floral wallpaper and a zebra skin carpet. Overall, the color scheme and the design is modern and elegant--although it incorporates a lot of little touches, it's not overdone.

Around us, we noticed other female diners, concluding that Mia Dona is very much a social environment. The only problem that I had with it were the acoustics. It was too loud in there and it was frustrating having to strain to hear my friends.

Given the renowned owners of this restaurant, we had high expectations for the food. As we usually do, we ordered different dishes and sampled a bit of everything. It was nice to see that that the restaurant week menu was representative of the regular dinner menu, which is not always the case.

Appetizers - I started my meal with the cannellini bean soup, which was warm and especially hearty. I was happy that the broth was clear instead of creamy, incorporating a variety of fresh herbs and veggies such as beans, tomatoes and parsley. It was sprinkled with fresh parmesan cheese and good quality olive oil, for that extra fruity touch.

Alexis ordered the Mia meatballs, which were magnificent and come highly recommended. Once again, good quality olive oil and parmesan cheese graced this dish, but what really stood out was the meat. It was tender and flavorful and I wouldn't be surprised if it combined a variety of high quality ground meats such as pork, beef or even veal.

Orecchiette (or little ear shaped pasta) with spicy sausage, kale and white beans was Maya's choice. I loved that it didn't use a red sauce, which made it much lighter and the pasta was perfectly cooked, with a slight bite to it. An overall solid dish.

Entrees - We all stayed away from pasta and either went for fish or beef. Both Maya and I got fish--I chose grilled branzino while Maya got the cod. I enjoyed my dish immensely, as the fish was crispy around the edges but tender and flaky on the inside. The sauce was refreshing and lemony, the fingerling potatoes soaking it up beautifully. Braised Moroccan olives were interpresed in the citrus sauce--they had a lovely hint of sweetness that was a welcome flavor.

Maya's cod was tasty too and again, very light. While it didn't include a red sauce, it was topped with a chunky tomato paste that provided a hint of acid. I was surprised by how generous her portion was.

I also had the opportunity to try Alexis', grilled hangar steak with broccoli rabe, herb ricotta and pepperoncini. While it was no doubt an inventive combination of savory/citrusy/spicy flavors, I didn't care for the texture of the meat and thought it was overdone. Alexis seemed to enjoy it though, which was the most important thing--it was her dish after all.

Dessert - Alexis and I both ordered the tiramisu while Maya opted for the maple panna cotta. The tiramisu was exceptional--silky mascarpone custard melting on my tongue, turning the corners of my mouth into a smile. What I especially loved was the side of very strong espresso gelato and the chocolate crumble, offering a rich essence of cocoa. Alexis didn't care for the gelato but aside from that, she agreed that this was a stand-out dessert.

Maya's panna cotta was also fantastic. The custard was velvety smooth and incorporated lovely bits of vanilla bean. What I loved about it the most was the soft, caramely apple compote, served on the side. And together with the crunchy pizzele cookie, all of these flavors formed a most comforting dessert.

Service and Cost:
Our waitress was laid-back and friendly. In fact, all of the waitstaff seemed to have an open, unpretentious aura. We also noticed that they didn't sport the standard all black or black/white uniform. Instead, they wore fashionable checkered shirts that looked great and non-traditional.

In terms of cost, it was the standard $35 per person restaurant week prix-fixe. However, with tax and tip, dinner set us back about $45 - $50. If you come here on a regular night, the prices aren't outrageous--$9-$14 for appetizers, $11-$21 for pastas, $19-$26 for fish and meat and $6-$9 for dessert.

2.5 Mmmms


  1. ive been staring at the picture of the meatballs and its making me hladna

  2. Everything was really good - I'd go back in a heartbeat. Maybe we should go for some good pasta. Yummy!



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