Hidden Gem…

Honestly, I never thought I would be at a loss for restaurants to review in New York City.

Interesting new places just aren’t sprouting up.

The costs for opening a restaurant are astronomical and the rate of failure is high.

I was doing my due diligence last week and stumbled upon a new Italian restaurant.

The draw was that the region of focus is Puglia.

Having visited Puglia recently and fallen in love with the flavors, produce and Primitivo wine, heading to Cardoncello diVino was a no brainer.

Cardoncello dining room

The intimate, attractively decorated place is in the crowded NoMad district.

The welcome is warm and service impeccable.

Our server, Guiseppe, brother of the chef, is generous of spirit and very accommodating.

Chef Max Convertini

Chef Max Convertini, a native of Brindisi, has been living in the U.S. for 19 years and is armed with a long list of culinary accomplishments.

We started with a drink at the bar.

It was Happy Hour and we ordered Prosecco which was dry and delightful ($7).

Cardoncello Dining Room

We moved on into the charming dining room.

We were greeted with a splendid whipped zucchini spread with citrus overtones along with light and airy homemade breads and fabulous breadsticks.

I selected a Primitivo Salento Campirossi which was delicious ($12).

We kicked things off with, Cardoncelli, the house specialty.

The cardincello mushroom for which the restaurant is named, is a divine mushroom from Apulia in southern Italy.

It is so named because it flourishes near fields of cardoons (a lesser-known relative of the artichoke that is considered a delicacy in Mediterranean cuisine. Grows into a thistle-like plant, but unlike artichokes, you eat the stems).

The mushroom was once banned by the pope due to its aphrodisiac qualities…bring it on.

Cardoncello diVino is the first restaurant in NYC to use the cardoncello mushroom in a wide variety of their recipes.

Cardoncelli

The appetizer, Cardoncelli, features the meaty cardoncello mushroom, enhanced with truffles, a crispy potato and caciocavallo cheese. It is pure heaven ($15).

Cavatelli

The homemade whole wheat Cavatelli with burrata and toasted almonds was perfectly prepared and highlighted by a light broccoli rabe pesto sauce ($15).

The homemade bread made a delectable edible vessel in which to soak up the residual sauce.

An EVOO tasting, offering a selection of four olive oils with small bites, is also available ($16).

Halibut

The featured fish was the best Halibut I have ever eaten wrapped in a potato skin accompanied by broccoli rabe and artichoke ($35).

Sambucco Creme Brûlée

I was stuffed, but Chef Max sent over a mouthwatering Sambucco infused Creme Brûlée garnished with fresh figs.

The brûlée will be featured on the upcoming fall menu.

Nutella Calzone

David opted for the delectably rich Panzerotti, Nutella filled baby calzones with truffled honey and toasted almonds ($9).

The chef outdid himself and ended our meal with a potent, flavorful Amari Nocino.

The menu also features an appealing array of appetizers including burrata, roasted beets, tuna tartare, a tantalizing selection of homemade pastas, seafood, lamb chops, Waygu beef cheek and roasted organic baby chicken.

It was quite an evening of fab food, engaging service highlighted by a gracious and accomplished chef.

The atmosphere is embracing, the portions very sharable and the prices extremely affordable.

Cardoncello diVino should be on your bucket list.

It is a memorable restaurant to patronize and support.

Cardoncello diVino 43 West 27th Street New York City. Open for lunch  Monday-Friday 12-3pm. Dinner Monday-Saturday 4:30-10:30pm. Closed Sunday. Reservations on OpenTable.com.

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