Sfoglia review, long!
I recently read several good reviews about this restaurant on the UES and was curious to try. 1st thing that caught my eye was that they have a corkage policy. Most places that do either charge an ungodly amount or they seem to look down on those patrons that do bring their own. Here, they were very accommodating and friendly. We were a table of 3 and brought 2 bottles, which we insisted that they taste. Upon receiving the bill, one of the corkage fees were waived. That rarely happens in NYC.
The menu is not long or elaborate but very interesting (ie: chestnut risotto, sausage, raisins, brown butter). To start I had the spicy braised tripe in tomato, ginger which sounded odd but the flavors married nicely. The other 2 starters were the wild mussels, tomato, garlic, salami, fennel which was also very good along with a regular garden salad...ho hum. Next we had the gnocchi alla Bolognese, the special ravioli which was stuffed with essentially the meat from osso bucco and topped w/a rich demi glace. I cannot get over how light and flavorful the gnocchi alla Bolognese was! Truly one of the finest Bolognese's I have ever had, either here in the US or in Italy. The ravioli were just as delightful. The meat wasn't ground like a traditional stuffing but rather in delectable morsels inside perfectly thin dough purses. The sauce as I mentioned was akin to a demi-glace but not quite as thick. Again perfect. The 3rd pasta dish was a crepe like filling of goat ricotta cheese and lamb ragu. It was very very good but was overshadowed by the other 2.
Unfortunately all 3 of us opted for the house specialty of Sfoglia’s chicken al mattone. Until last night I have always professed that I make the best chicken anywhere. I need to reassess that statement. Quality dishes always start with quality ingredients and given this simple dish, quality is key. My guess is that they use are D'Artagnan chickens. OMG the flavors of the chicken were pure and the simple dressing of olive oil, lemon and crushed red peppers was terrific! Simple but astounding! BTW, if not for what I think was the bottom crust being a overly salty, the bread could be one of the best I have ever had. Seriously crunchy crust while the consistency of the inside was beautify dense with the right amount of chew. Service was proficient and friendly.
Dessert of bread pudding was very good. If you are looking for the Il Mulino or L'Impero experience then this place is not for you. If you are looking for incredible food quality along w/friendly staff and rustic cozy atmosphere, Sfoglia hits on all cylinders!
"1st thing that caught my eye was that they have a corkage policy. Most places that do either charge an ungodly amount or they seem to look down on those patrons that do bring their own. Here, they were very accommodating and friendly. We were a table of 3 and brought 2 bottles, which we insisted that they taste. Upon receiving the bill, one of the corkage fees were waived. That rarely happens in NYC. "
Must disagree strongly. Many restaurants in NYC allow BYO for a corkage fee, and many are accomodating and welcoming, and have no negative attitude about it whatsoever. All the Danny Meyer restaurants, for example. Also, it is common in NYC for corkage fees to be waived, when diners spend a decent amount on dinner.
There are a handful of restaurants that have "friendly" corkage policies and Danny Meyer restaurants are among them (11 Madison being my favorite. Grammercy is also friendly but seems to be fraying at the edges a bit.) But this is not the norm in NYC. I know of several places that do allow but the quality of the food does not merit attention. Quality restaurants that allow REASONABLE corkage are few. Here is a list I have compiled and is in no way definative. If you'd like to add some of your favorites, please feel free to share.
AOC Bedford- No corkage Sunday/Monday, $20 rest of the week
Aquavit- $35- gracious service
Atelier- $50- gracious service
Balthazar- $30, good attitude, good glasses
Blue Hill- $25, good attitude, good glasses
Blue Ribbon- $25
Country Café- $10, good attitude, horrible glasses
Craft- $45, great service
Eleven Madison Park- $25, great service
Fairway- $10, good attitude
Gramercy Tavern- $25, great service
Grand Sichuan- $5, poor glassware
iCoppi- $15, great service, decent glasses
Inside- $15, decent glassware, good service
Jean Georges- $85
Kitchenette- no fee, no glasses, no corkscrews.
L'Ecole- No corkage Mondays
L'impero- $25, one bottle limit
Mishima- $10, small glasses, decent for riesling
Montrachet- No corkage Mondays
Per Se- $75 per bottle, $350 kicker for the sixth bottle
Savoy- $25, two bottle limit, bad attitude from the wine director
Sfoglia- $20 with decent stemware and GREAT attitude
Share- $15, decent glasses, good attitude
Tartine- no corkage
Tasting Room- no corkage if you buy a bottle off the list
The Harrison- $25, one bottle limit
Union Square Cafe- $25 (?)- great attitude
Vice Versa- $15, great attitude, decent glasses
Zoe- $13, great attitude.
I've been to Sfoglia twice. The first time (shortly after they opened) our meal was excellent in all respects, and quite reasonably priced. The second time (a few weeks ago) we were very disappointed. Several of the dishes our party ordered were undistinguished - not bad, but not worth the cost (which had gone up) or the trip (we don't live in the neighborhood).
The bread was terrific both times.