These olives are a little bit of culinary sleight of hand; in fact they are not olives at all, but rather a quail egg that's been dyed and compressed with black olive juice to look like an olive. These are extraordinary bites of food, accented with fresh sage, olive oil, and lemon peel, with the poached quail eggs literally exploding as they hit your palate.
Soft pretzel nuggets
Perfectly baked, yeasty, and easy to dive into. They're enhanced with house-ground mustard and caraway seeds. Snyder's of Hanover, take note. This should be your next flavor.
A mocktail based on a classic NY drink made with housemade bitters and a twist of orange.
Gnocco frito with cream cheese, smoked sable, and poppyseed ash is an exquisitely rendered tribute to Jewish appetizing stores like the venerable Russ & Daughters.
Peconic Bay scallop and oyster
Torrisi tells us, "The Jinglebell peppers, also known as cherry or cherry bombs, are finely cut and made into a mignonette with shallots, black pepper, and red wine vinegar for the oyster. The scallop is done in its shell with tabasco peppers from the Brooklyn Grange farm in Long Island City that are charred and chopped into a super-fine paste, raw clam liquor, lemon juice, and olive oil."
Royal Transmontanus caviar
Served with a wink and a nod and creme fraiche atop tiny bite-size knishes stuffed with a molten potato puree with leeks that tastes like the best potato knish ever created. A bed of toasted kasha is a lovely textural contrast to the the smooth and creamy potato puree.
Featuring house-smoked bacon. Another dish as tasty as it is clever.
Chicken and cashews
A chicken oyster (one of the two small, round pieces of dark meat near the thigh) that gets poached and fried then rolled in cashews and oyster sauce. And no Chinese restaurant I've ever been to would serve these with original Tiffany oyster forks, and the very juxtaposition of the dish and the forks made me chuckle.
"A nod to the people of South Brooklyn" comes through roasted beets, crunchy brussels sprout leaves, pickled apples, dill pollen, and a homemade cream made with pumpernickel bread.
Clean, fresh-tasting mackerel cooked in crazy water, tomato broth made with summer tomatoes that have been preserved, served with seabean ash. The amazing broth tastes like the best gazpacho you've never had.
Foie gras, Delmonico steak tartare
Here the foie is poached in butter with a classic Newberg sauce (associated with an old-fashioned lobster dish that bears its name), made with cream, brandy, cayenne, and mushrooms. It's served with cured brandy maple syrup gelee and a little fresh tarragon, and comes with buttery toasted brioche. Spread the insanely smooth, rich and delicious foie on this brioche, and you will know things you didn't know before.
Then there's the Delmonico steak tartare, topped with the cutest mini-cornichon slices you've ever seen and an intact egg yolk filled with luscious bearnaise sauce. You will be tempted to just break the yolk, spread it over the tartare and transport it immediately to your mouth. That definitely works, but you can exponentially increase the pleasure you derive from the dish by spreading the tartare on the thrice cooked thick potato chips dredged in capers and salt that accompany the dish.
Also served on the $60 menu, but here it gets a more whimsical treatment, served with edible leather straps, though Torrisi says the straps that are served on the side are a little too tough to eat.
A beef ragu made with meat that's been dry-aged for 24 to 30 days, served with beef "ricotta" (actually rendered beef fat, with tapioca maltodextrin helping it achieve that texture) and homemade semolina twist bread. No utensils necessary, you use the bread to scoop and eat. They do offer you tiny silver spoons to make sure you get every morsel of the ragu.
Tomahawk cut of lamb
A Manischewitz glaze, Jerusalem artichokes, macerated Concord grapes that taste like popsicles, fried mint and celery. It's presented quite ceremoniously with a smile before being sent back to the kitchen to be carved.
Lamb, take 2
This is what the plate of lamb looks like after it's carved. The lamb has been seared with rosemary and thyme butter. It's wrapped in caul fat to keep it moist on the grill.
Bitter greens served with a bitters vinaigrette
A palate-cleanser, its distinct bitterness preparing your palate for the array of sweets coming your way.
A buttery, flaky housemade danish comes studded with crushed bits of black walnut, and then topped with preserved Brooklyn figs and cheese from upstate. The danish would merely be funny and diverting if it wasn't so delicious and powerful.
Another old Torrisi touch, a paper cup full of granny smith ice for palate cleanser number two.
A maraschino float made with housemade maraschino cherry soda sucked up with an edible evaporated milk straw is clever and funny, but doesn't quite deliver what the visual suggests; there's a funny and resonant malted root beer candy bar that has a distinct malty taste with a pleasant root beer finish; and sour cherry vanilla ice cream with pretzel breadcrumbs that was so good I wished I could have taken a pint home.
A combination of old Torrisi favorites and some new ones developed for the tasting menu: the winners for me were the coffee cake with a layer of vincotto fig jam, the fresh ricotta mini-cannoli with orange zest and fennel, and (taking home the gold medal) the salt water taffy with bonito flake and dried seaweed.
The last touch: a box presented with the menu, wrapped up like a newspaper...
and a rainbow cookie.
A look at just a few of the dishes used over the course of the meal.