On the well-heeled streets of the Upper East Side and just a few blocks away from the world’s finest department stores and boutiques, as well as Central Park East, is NELLO Restaurant. This establishment has been a staple in the neighborhood like many of the dowagers, debutants and socialites who live nearby. Yes, the rumors are true. You might catch a glimpse of Beyoncé and Jay Z, Hollywood types, celebrity chefs, models and most certainly an international jet setting crowd who come for the exposure but stay for the memorable and authentic Italian-based cuisine. Andiamo.
Nello was put through the (media) ringer, “the press” if you will, much like their homemade pasta. That’s all in the past.
Today there is a breath of fresh air, the freshest food and impeccable service taking over the business. It’s creating a flow of repeat customers while a new, successful and vibrant crowd of foodies discover the reason why Nello has been a permanent fixture on Madison Avenue. Sole proprietor, Thomas Makkos, is making it happen with his professional, thoroughly capable and omnipresent manager, Goran.
The interior dining room is designed with that UES sensibility: various gilded light sconces illuminate the room, tufted charcoal banquettes and a collection of wildlife photos are displayed on cream-colored walls. The ambiance is attractive, refined and understated but as identifiable as a lady wearing a Coco Chanel suit at The Met. You will quickly know which neighborhood you are in.
Nello offers a menu, practically a novel, that is vast with a selection for every desire and taste. Everything is made fresh daily including the imported fish and homemade pastas. Here are several of our suggestions created by Executive Chef, Luis Caisaguano.
It would be unfortunate to visit Nello without trying the chef’s special creation with imported truffles. On this night, we tried the pasta with Shaved White Truffle. Here is the backstory: This delicacy is partly the reason how the restaurant has survived for so many years (over 20) and has become the go-to place for the rare and desirable “Trifola d’Alba Madonna” (white truffle) and “Diamond of the Kitchen” (black truffle).
This subterranean fungi are mostly found in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. Earthy, robust and served over al dente linguini, the aromatic flavors embrace the taste buds with a smooth buttery finish — the textures and flavors work perfectly together. In one word, outstanding.
For entrée there are many classic Mediterranean choices. They offer Saltimbocca, Ossobuco and one of my favorites, Veal Milanesa (above) with arugula and tomato salad. During this visit I chose the special Dover Sole that was presented before prepared and grilled to perfection then served in a savory Champaign lemon sauce accompanied with steamed asparagus. All entrees that passed our table looked very appealing, appetizing and beautifully presented. I watched the other diners revel with delight and approval.
Save a little room for their dessert selection. Nello offers an impressive assortment of confections and creations from tiramisu to homemade sorbets — the perfect way to end your meal. Abbondonza. Goran also recommended a little Limoncello — sweet, tart and refreshing.
While there are many fine restaurants to choose from in this area, Nello rates a few more Coach Wallets and Hermès Handbags above the rest.
After your lunch, dinner or late night supper you can always shop, walk and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.
696 Madison Ave,
New York, NY