My week started with celebration, which was a great way to kick things off, as we went out for our friend Jamil's birthday. We started with casual drinks in the city and ended things off at Locale, just a few blocks away from his apartment. I haven't been in quite a while and was really excited to see what they've been up to. To my great satisfaction, it sure looks like they've been perfecting things over time, as each dish we had was better than the next. I surely won't wait this long to go again. Here's what made me feel this way:
Braised Meatballs - Who doesn't love a meat ball?! We couldn't resist of course, especially when we saw that these were braised, which automatically meant tons of rich, deep flavor. I'm happy to say that they absolutely delivered and then some, with a beautifully tender and moist interior that just made your tastebuds automatically happy. The vibrant tomato sauce was not only incredibly hearty but also a little spicy, elevating this a step above a traditional meatball. Our only complaint was that one meatball for each of us just wasn't enough.
Fagottini - This dish is truly special and a signature for Locale. For those of you who aren't familiar with fagottini, they're little purse shaped pasta with a surprise inside. Locale's version includes creamy gorgonzola cheese that's incredibly tangy, which is then further dressed in a creamy magenta beat sauce that just totally rocked my world. Not only does it contain little bite sized pieces of beets, the sauce takes on a cheesy quality when mixed with the gorgonzola. A sprinkling of crunchy walnuts help tie this delicious change purse even further together.
Beef Short Rib Risotto - Dan ordered this as his entree and loved it a lot. Cooked in a hearty cabernet sauce, it had a lovely color and an even better flavor, tasting just like fall should. The risotto was perfectly creamy and so was the meat, which was almost stew-like. The crunchy onions on top were a really nice touch too. Dan's only complaint was that it was a little too rich for such a large portion. It worked out for me, as I got to nibble on it quite a bit.
Organic Chicken - Jamil went for the elegant roasted organic chicken you see above, with toasted polenta and asparagus. It looked impressive and from his empty plate at the end of the meal, I took that as proof.
Service and Cost:
Our server was attentive and helpful, and it was great that our dishes didn't take long to bring out. And even when we whipped out a coupon at the end of our meal, the staff was gracious and accommodating, happy and willing to accept it.
Costs are moderate and for the dinner I just described, along with a $10 coupon set us back about $88 in total with tax and tip, so about $29 each.
Locale - 33-02 34th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11106
N/Q Train to Broadway