All’onda in Italian means “Wave”, pertaining perhaps to the soupy Risotto Astice prepared All’onda style which will make waves if you tilt your plate (versus drier risottos like in Piedmont). Or it may relate to the new wave style of Asian influenced Italian cooking that chef Chris Jaeckle, formerly with EMP and Ai Fiori, is trying to introduce. Or perhaps 30 years later my obsession with new wave music is not going away anytime soon, and now reflected in my blog post titles. Every restaurant in the world should have Depeche Mode or the Smiths in its soundtrack and just like that the world’s conflicts are solved. With the exception of Pure Thai Cookhouse, who’s funky Thai disco matches the atmosphere and Thai porn posters perfectly.
But I digress. I cant even recall the music at All’onda. All I remember is the food, and the long line to the bathroom upon arrival. The line consisted of roughly 100% of members of my family but still. They found out the hard way that stopping at Starbucks before a long drive from Woodbury Commons is not as brilliant of an idea as they originally thought. Women Schwomen you know what I’m saying?
But I digress, again. I always associate “Venetian Cuisine” with all those beautiful creatures found in the Venetian lagoon. Like the amazing bay scallops you can see in one of my rotating top pictures which you can find just about every day in the greatest outdoor museum on the planet, Rialto Market. So before the meal you could color me ‘I don’t get it’. But after trying some cichetti (Venetian inspired snacks), Risotto Astice, clams, and evidence of Nero di Seppia on a previous menu, I see just enough similarities. Perhaps “Influenced” is the more appropriate word in the description, but it just doesn’t sound as convincing. Although it didn’t finish as strong as I was hoping, this was still an outstanding meal
So we started with the aforementioned Venetian style Cichetti. Perfectly buttery chicken liver, pickled cherries and hazelnuts Crostini worked very well. You got to start with some Crostini as soon as you pull up your gondola on Canal Street. The Arancini here were oozing with flavor and black truffle aroma. They will add Arancini balls as necessary for your party
From the lagoons of Rhode Island, comes this Calamari, fried to perfection with pickled peppers, white wine, and sopressata. I like ordering fried Calamari in places like to make up for all those horrible fried calamari I’ve eaten in the outer boroughs in the nerdy years. Same idea goes for the Clams Casino with pancetta and panko which is Japanese breadcrumbs (made from crustless bread). Problem with the clams is that they are not very shareable, and at $15 for 5 not a whole lot of value.
The pastas here were outrageous. Oversized Agnolotti filled with Mortadella, and topped with pistachios, Soppressata and homemade XO sauce, a fishy (in a very good way) Chinese sauce, this one made with dried shrimp and scallops. Don’t let the fishy part deter you. The sauce, along with the Soppressata adds nice depth to the Agnolotti which in this case would not survive on its own. Get this. The zesty Garganelli with sweet peekytoe crab and tarragon was another winner. peekytoe crab is another one of those recent made up names describing those little crabs the Maine fishermen used to throw out until one NY chef stepped in, added it to the menu, and a market was born. The Lobster Risotto (Astice) came in Venetian style soupy, but toughened up eventually and was quite good.
Here’s where things started to tail off. I ordered the Short Rib for 2 to be shared with all of us. Its $62 for this little beast which is quite reasonable. Upon the first few bites I was transported to short rib heaven, where everyone looks like Giada De Laurentiis and Alba white truffles are available year round, and shaved daily on your pasta, by one of the Giadas.. before she brings the short rib. Ah my Giadachka! Ok, where was I? Oh ye, so I was enjoying this super tender slow cooked Giada meat, until I opened my eyes and realized I was the lone enjoyer. The rest of the family had major issues with the amount of fat content they had to struggle with and just gave up on the meat too soon. Still, I would recommend this for 2 people without children
The desserts were lackluster. Hazelnut mousse was pretty to look at but with zero substance, like Paris Hilton. We all disliked it and gave up on it quite early. Same goes for the Affogato, one small scoop of Vanilla with Amaretto Espresso in an ashtray. I bet Giada can make a killer Affogato, in a glass, like we have every year at our favorite restaurant in the world, Caicos Café in Turks and Caicos.
Giada if you reading, I would like to invite you to All’onda where we feast on Asian flavored pastas, learn how to say Pancetta, and make the Affogato together, wearing appropriate cooking attire
22 E 13th St
Recommended Dishes: Crostini, Arancini, Calamari, Agnolotti, Garganelli
It all looks so drool-worthy but I’m salivating over that calamari and the sloppy lobster risotto.
Great idea about using my loved (store bought) XO sauce! That and a squirt of Umami (Nobu) paste on everything!!!