Slideshow: Torrisi Italian Specialties, NYC: 20-Course $125 Tasting Menu That Manages To Be Flat-Out Fun

Olives stuffed with a soft-poached quail egg
Olives stuffed with a soft-poached quail egg
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
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.
"The Americano"
A mocktail based on a classic NY drink made with housemade bitters and a twist of orange.
Peconic Bay scallop and oyster
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
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.
Escargot Casino
Escargot Casino
Featuring house-smoked bacon. Another dish as tasty as it is clever.
Brighton Beets
Brighton Beets
"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.
Mackerel
Mackerel
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
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.

Cantonese lobster
Cantonese lobster
Sunday Supper
Sunday Supper
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
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.
Bitter greens served with a bitters vinaigrette
Bitter greens served with a bitters vinaigrette
A palate-cleanser, its distinct bitterness preparing your palate for the array of sweets coming your way.
Cheese danish
Cheese danish
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.
Italian Ice
Italian Ice
Another old Torrisi touch, a paper cup full of granny smith ice for palate cleanser number two.
Last plate
Last plate
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.
And finally
And finally
The last touch: a box presented with the menu, wrapped up like a newspaper...
and a rainbow cookie.
and a rainbow cookie.