Not that this town has any shortage of standout Italian spots, but a new neighborhood joint is always welcome. Enter, then, Tableside Italian Cook Shoppe, a cute little corner eatery in the East Village serving up super-rich pasta dishes and one very good grilled octopus.
Up until April, Tableside was Edward and Neal’s Fish Bar, but now the spot’s run by Anthony DeGrezia—whose family owns a number of Italian restaurants in the city—and his fiancee, Saje Dyer. The menu, which members of the media were invited to sample on Wednesday, includes recipes from the DeGrezia family’s vault, as if dish names like “Grandma’s Lamb Specialty” weren’t a giveaway.
At Wednesday’s event, reporters were able to try appetizers like the aforementioned “Grandma’s Lamb Specialty,” ($15) a trio of buttery lamb meatballs paired with a slab of polenta; “Rolling With the Eggplant,” ($12) a lightly-fried version of the eponymous vegetable stuffed with ricotta cheese; and a Caesar salad ($11). But the standout was the “Octopus and the Potato” ($16)—my reservations about eating octopus aside, the grilled mollusc was delicate, tender and served atop a bed of savory potatoes and olives. If an intelligent animal must become a meal, at least this one is well-worth the eating.
Mains of note include the very decadent “Truffled Moneybags” ($22), whose little bag-shaped balls of pasta come stuffed with ricotta and drenched in a cheesy white truffle sauce; and my personal favorite, “The Tasty Crustacean,” comprised of handmade tonnarelli in a tasty lobster reduction sauce and topped with a hunk of lobster meat.
Tableside also offers a selection of cocktails—the kick-y “Smoky Elixir,” made with habanero-infused mezcal, blood orange juice, cherry liqueur and lime juice, is particularly good—and a happy hour deal that includes $5 drafts and $6 select wines, in addition to bar snacks like mussels and meatball sliders. The restaurant officially launches its new menu on Monday, if you’re in the neighborhood.
Tableside Italian Cook Shoppe is located at 345 East 6th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues in the East Village (646-852-6498, tablesideitaliancookshoppe.com).