Wednesday night I met my brother and a family friend for dinner in New York after a long day of interviews. The previous night I had gotten off a bus at 8:00pm, spent the next hour sprinting around midtown trying to find poster board, and then ended up grabbing a slice of pizza by myself in a sad, lonely deli. So needless to say, I was looking forward to a proper meal without the shame and isolation.
We entered Bella Blu on the upper east side and were pointed towards our friend waiting at the bar. The atmosphere was a mixture of styles; colorful murals on the wall suggested classic Italian, popular music playing over the din of voices created the feel of a nightspot, and a formal wait staff and table setting set the tone for the delicious food.
Wine came first. After a day of interviews, which included spilling coffee on the only blouse I brought for the day, navigating my way back from the fringes of Brooklyn, and lots of forced smiling, I was very ready for a glass of the good stuff. Our friend was well-versed in wine, and his choice was fantastic. Lacking the proper knowledge and vocabulary to describe wine, I will say that it was red, Italian, and delicious.
The waiter immediately brought out two different kinds of bread snacks, one was a traditional bread basket with a spicy tomato tapenade, and the second was a basket of small pieces of cheeseless pizza.
For a first course, we shared the stracciatella on recommendation from the waiter. They divided it up into thirds for us, each of us getting a plate with a generous portion of cheese, prosciutto, arugula and tomatoes. The cheese was divine. It was formed into a tubular mound, but it was so soft and fresh that it just fell apart at any pressure from my fork. It was creamy and perfectly salty.
This restaurant recommendation was given to my brother under the condition that he must order the lobster arribiatta. I am not even sure if this dish was on the menu, but the waiter said he could make it happen. His dish was a whole lobster with spicy tomato spaghetti. The pasta was served in an open lobster shell. The manager came over when I was taking a picture and asked jokingly if I was going to steal his recipe. The lobster was fresh and rich, but I didn’t love the pairing with the tomato sauce. I think there are better ways to serve lobster.
I ordered the pan-roasted Chilean sea bass with clams, mussels, and thyme in chardonnay sauce. My dish was divine. All of the elements were executed perfectly. The bass was thick-cut and roasted to perfection, the inside was moist and flaky and there was a slight crust on top. The shellfish had a strong briny taste and their flavor became infused with the light sauce. The chardonnay sauce was reduced to the ideal consistency and its light flavor complimented the subtle flavors of the bass. There were so many delicious looking options on the menu, but I would have a very hard time going back and not ordering this again.
We denied dessert because our dinners had been enough, but the waiter brought a tiramisu for the table and I wasn’t mad about it. The wait staff was attentive and provided helpful suggestions as well as delicious extras. Put this on the agenda for a special night out.
70th and Lexington