There is seldom a time when I have the opportunity to rave about a restaurant in my Upper East Side neighborhood. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have an Italian restaurant so close to home that not only puts out amazing dishes but, and this is incredibly important on the Upper East Side, has an amazing wine program.
With details designed to reflect the sophisticated structure that is Florence, Italy, from its quilted milk chocolate brown leather aviary styled seat cushions that hang suspended over the blue grey wood paneled bench that stands affixed to the wall, to the bulbous glass balled chandelier linked together by industrial knotted ropes that emit a glow that cascades throughout the space, Felice 83 has just been pushed up to my top five, nay, three favorite restaurants in my hood.
Finding myself amidst a decor that immediately calmed my mood, from the crazed hustle and bustle of my power walk from an earlier dining event that I was running late from, with a glass of Franciacorta Brut Rosé curated by Co-Owner Jacopo Giustiniani in my hand and one of my girl friends sitting adjacent to me to share it all with was priceless. Like any truly Italian experience I’ve had, I was entirely taken care of—truly, we joked that we were pre-gaming for Thanksgiving. There was not one ounce of space on our table which was large enough to comfortably seat six and housed merely two of us that was not occupied by an amazing Italian dish. In fact, we had to place a couple of our dishes on a separate table to accommodate them all. I kid you not, every single dish was incredible. Even the Salmone, which notoriously gets a bad rap for being a boring generically safe choice, was served at the most perfectly crisp outside and tender flaky inside over a purple cabbage puree had me saying “wow” to its colorful and textural aesthetic as well as its wonderful flavors. I’m a firm believer that food should look good because pretty food is more enticing and makes you want to eat it. It is clear to see that Executive Chef Antonio Pampalone feels the same way. Every dish was paid special attention to and had it’s own thoughtful aesthetic. Looking at the unique platings amongst their pasta dishes alone is the perfect example of this.
The Lasagnetta Classica is an architectural beauty. Perhaps it’s not too far fetched to say that it’s reminiscent of Rome’s Coliseum in its spherical high walled structure. A homemade pasta filled with slow cooked veal ragù and creamy bechamel that then sits in a moat of parmigiano sauce, it’s eye catching while also being delicious extremely creamy quintessential Italian elevated comfort food. Then there was my hands down favorite pasta, the Linguine ai Frutti di Mare. Oh man, I wanted to stop eating it to save room for other dishes but I couldn’t stop my fork wielding hand from continuously twirling heaping bite after bite of pasta and plucking perfectly cooked pieces of scallops, shrimp, octopus, calamari and mussels, like a rebel doing community service on the side of a highway with a trash picker, from their spicy tomato broth. Somehow I managed to forcibly stop, aka I pulled my fork out when the server came by and asked for it to be packaged. To be completely transparent, that self control lasted the walk home to where I promptly pulled it out of my doggy bag and devoured it. Yes, it was that good!
Honestly, I can rave about the other three pasta dishes that made it to our table to their final resting place, ooh, and the amazing Barbabietole and Rosa salads, but I’m thinking by now you’re getting the gist that all of their pastas are on this rave worthy level and are getting tired of drooling while reading this and are eager to book your table. I completely agree, this is a brilliant move. Do it! The reservation button is on the upper right hand side of this article.