This review was originally written in October 2011.
I recently (October 2011) had a lovely meal at Ai Fiori, meaning Among the Flowers in Italian, in NYC on a Friday night. It is one of numerous NYC restaurants by chef and owner Michael White. I reserved at the last minute, which means simply that I called a few days in dvance. I really wanted to snag a reservation at Eleven Madison Park, but that will have to be done with more planning. My husband and I dined at Ai Fiori right after they were awarded 28 points by the new Zagat Guide 2012. We were lucky!
The space is large and lovely, and situated in the Setai Hotel in midtown. The room is neutal with subdued lighting, bordering on a little too dark. Having an early reservation at six, we were able to watch the wait staff(numerous) perform their magic, and the changing of the guard with the clientele. But of course, it’s all about the food.
We chose the 4 course tasting menu, and we believe it’s the best way to test the chef as well. We started with an amuse bouche that was mushroom soup, but so much more in a beautiful presentation. The appetizers and pastas were outstanding, as were the desserts.
The fish or meat course (pesche/carne) we could have done without. My halibut with trumpets, corn, pomodoro and polenta was perfect with a beurre blanc sauce. My husband felt that the rack of lamb was ordinary, and bordering on heavy.
Desserts were a triumph. I had a sweet called Budino and it may have been one of the best desserts of all time. the olive oil, lemon cake was good, but not in the same class.
Go to Ai Fiori and do appetizers, pasta, and dessert. Amazingly creative.