When searching for authentic Italian cuisine featuring excellent dishes paired with fine wines, Aroma Kitchen & Winebar consistently impresses for ability to provide flair and elegance in such an intimate and tiny dining room. With its tranquil atmosphere and attentive service, Aroma succeeds in serving authentic Italian cuisine, exceeding that of nearby competitors Frankie's 17 Spuntino and Centovini.
A small platter of Italian cured meats as well as baked stuffed calamari with almond, shrimp, capers, fennel and parsley are terrific ways to begin your meal, though the gratin of gnocchi, sausage, fontina, and pesto nutmeg béchamel surely exceeds the other appetizers on offer. In addition, do not overlook the intriguing salads, both the rocket, pecorino, bresaola, pickled red onion and lemon vinaigrette as well as the baby spinach with goat cheese. Highly recommended are three hearty main dishes, a lamb chop with mint pesto, cannellini beans, sun-dried tomato, and capers; braised veal shoulder "spezzatino" with ricotta cavatelli, ham, and panna; and Sicilian meatloaf with herbed polenta, cipolline onion, red pepper pesto, mascarpone. Recommended desserts are sicilian pistachio crème brûlée, a warm almond chocolate cake with brandied morello cherries and zabaglione cream as well as a fine plate of traditional Italian cheeses with poached dried fruits. The list of over 120 wines nicely augment this regional Italian cuisine, and it should be noted Aroma features a prix fixe menu with three courses for $25 on Sundays, along with classical guitar accompaniment.
We might compare the fair number small restaurants at which we dined in the past year: Although a number of these restaurants kept us waiting despite our always arriving punctually, here manager Alexandra DeGiorgio took unusual and sincere effort in repeatedly expressing her sorrow at our having to wait 15 minutes for the table. Very few managers take such pains—in fact, restaurants' general indifference at keeping patrons waiting underscores Aroma's commitment to its guests. Alexandra declares on the restaurant's website: "My career allowed me to hone my management skills and ensure the utmost client satisfaction." Were this only true at more New York establishments!
Finally, do note Aroma's private lower-lever dining room featuring stone, wood and glass elements. With dimly-lit chandeliers and highlighted by votive candles, the communal wood table of dark mahogany creates a charming atmosphere. As this private dining room is reached via a narrow staircase and winding catacombs, the journey seems rather uniquely northern Italian—perhaps reminiscent of Venice. We find Aroma an ideal location both for intimate dinners as well as private events, and note that multi-course holiday meals such as at Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve feature creative and delightful menu options.
Aroma Kitchen & Winebar is located in the NoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. NoHo—the small neighborhood north of Houston (hence "NoHo")—serves as a buffer zone between Greenwich Village on the west and the East Village on the east. Compared to its southern neighbor SoHo, NoHo is a relatively quiet area, despite its proximity to (and some would say its overlapping borders with) New York University. The exact boundaries of NoHo are debatable and seemingly moveable (like many New York City neighborhoods), but it is generally understood to be bounded by Astor Place and Houston Street (on the north and south) and Broadway and The Bowery (on the west and east). Far from the farmland it used to be, NoHo is now a fashionable and hip piece of New York’s most vibrant real estate. The former warehouse and retail district is a bona fide historic district, with over a hundred buildings ranging from the early nineteenth century to recent years. The neighborhood is home to majestic structures like Colonnade Row, the Cable Building, and the Schermerhorn Building, as well as the Joseph Papp Public Theater and Joe’s Pub. NoHo's history as a retail center is on display at the Merchant's House Museum, a family home kept intact that dates back to the 1800s. Not that NoHo's days as a retail mecca are over, by any means. On Broadway, you'll find a massive American Apparel store, as well as local favorite Andy's Chee-Pees and every other type of store imaginable, rivaling nearby SoHo's offerings. NoHo's loft-heavy residential offerings have long been home to artists and writers, so it's hardly surprising to find great bookstores like Mercer Street Books, not to mention art house theaters like the Angelika Film Center and the stage venues like Astor Place Theatre, home of the Blue Man Group. As for the overlapping parts of the NYU campus, two of the most renowned departments of the university—the Gallatin School Of Individualized Study and the Tisch School Of The Arts--are both located on Broadway in Noho. In August, NoHo is involved (along with much of Manhattan) in Summer Streets where huge swaths of city streets are turned into pedestrian walkways, bereft of cars and trucks. The annual NoHo Art Walk showcases emerging artists and the many wonderful art galleries in the neighborhood.
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