|Orecchiete with Shrimp, Crab, Bottarga and White Wine|
|Homemade Stracciatella with Olio Nuovo|
Such a dinner could start with a plate of freshly sliced prosciutto, machine-sliced thin at the bar. Or an appetizer of crispy eggplant arancini with whipped ricotta and roasted tomatoes, a delicious if not fully wholesome snack. On a recent visit, we opted to begin with a dish of cauliflower caponata from the contorni section of the menu. The cauliflower was tender but not overcooked, nicely browned on the outside and tossed with sweet raisins, pine nuts and peppadew peppers. A successful sweet-and-savory dish that was a nice counterpoint to the creamy stracciatella.
|Orecchiette with Mushrooms and Marsala|
For some, the pasta dishes probably appear small, sitting low in wide ovular dishes. They could be larger, but with appetizers I find the portions sufficient, and the well-executed pastas go a long way when savored slowly. I recommend adding a side of the creamy polenta with fonduta parmigiana, another of Spasso's most successful dishes, which is rich, creamy and cheesy. If I could quibble with anything, it would be that the menu is fairly difficult for vegetarians. On our most recent visit, most of the appetizers available contained meat or seafood, as did all but one of the pastas.
The food at Spasso is not fancy or intricate. But it shows how much can be accomplished when simple dishes are executed well. The pasta is fresh and al dente, the dishes are interesting and the ingredients are fresh and flavorful. All of that makes for a fine choice when seeking a satisfying dinner in the West Village.
551 Hudson Street
Recommended dishes: Homemade stracciatella ($9); cavatelli with wild mushrooms; orecchiette with shrimp, crab and bottarga ($20); risotto with pork belly ($17).
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