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Apr 3, 2011 10:46 AM

Wish we had liked it (Long!)

After reading some on-line reviews and a thread on this blog, we decided to get take-out from Polpettina in Eastchester last night.


I knew they had pickled fiddlehead ferns as a special, so we had to try those. They also had crispy kale chips and two other specials that we ordered: A sausage and broccoli rabe ravioli special, and a chicken milanese salad with arugula. We also got one of their specialty sandwiches.

The ravioli were advertised as homemade and served with brown butter. The cost was $15 for 6 ravioli. They were definitely decent with a light texture and discernible flavors. However, the portion seemed awfully small for the price. Know when you indicate that something is O.K. with your thumb and pointer? Do that. See the circular space in the middle? That's the size of each ravioli. The cost breakdown was $2.50 per ravioli. I felt it was a little outrageous for a casual take-out place. If we ordered osso bucco ravioli or shrimp ravioli, the cost would have made sense.

The salad was okay. The arugula was fresh and the lemon-pepper dressing was zingy with lemon zest. Topping the salad were shavings of parmigiano reggiano, just the right amount to mix in. The cutlet carried two slices of roasted peppers and some seemingly fresh mozzarella. All of that was fine. The odd thing was the cutlet itself. It was pounded thinly and breaded well, but it tasted way too gamy to be chicken. The meat itself was slightly pink and tough, leading me to believe it was either a pork or veal cutlet. It was also as dry as cardboard. If that cutlet was made the day we ordered it (Saturday), it must have been made Saturday morning at 12:01 a.m. because you could practically taste the refrigeration and sense the coagulation of the proteins and fats in it.

The pickled fiddlehead ferns were the main reason we wanted to try the place. The portion we received was mostly liquid. There were probably 10 heads in the serving size. The white vinegar and dill brine really killed the spring-like, "green" taste the ferns usually have. The only thing that survived was the texture of the ferns: They still had some snap and crunch.

They threw in a small sample of homemade cucumber pickles (three discs, to be exact). This brine seemed to be a little more complex, maybe cider vinegar and some chili flakes in there. Not bad.

The kale chips were sold in an open mason jar and looked like asparagus sculptures. They are not made in-house. The jar comes with a label from Capay Organic. It seems that they took whole salted kale leaves and put them in a food dehydrator. They were pretty crispy, all right. Imagine raking your lawn in October and decide to snack on some of the drier leaves. That's the sensory experience.

Once the chip crumbles onto your tongue, you can really taste a nice kale flavor. However, the center stems get as woody as bamboo skewers and should not be eaten (unless toothpicks are a part of your daily diet). The idea is great and would make an amazing, guilt-free snack food if it didn't include an instrument of impalement through the center. Eat carefully.

Okay, here's the clincher: My son loves roast pork, so he ordered the roast pork sandwich with cilantro cream and house pickled veggies on ciabatta. He ate half of it in a feeding frenzy and then walked away. His comment was that it was "okay."

Late in the evening, my husband went downstairs and raided the fridge. He found the sandwich and asked our son if he was going to finish it. Our son said he wasn't planning to, so hubby started to chow down. About a minute later, he comes upstairs and says to me, "That was the most disgusting sandwich I ever had. The meat was so gristly and fatty, it looked like it hadn't been trimmed at all. I couldn't chew it. They had some kind of coleslaw on it and the flavor was just gross." I asked what he did with it, as my husband will never knowingly waste food. He said, "I tried to give it to the dog and he walked away. He wouldn't eat it. Have you ever heard of a dog that wouldn't eat pork?"

Let me add that our dog is a rescue who was living on the streets and eating trash when we found him. This dog will try to eat anything. I've even seen him try to eat a rock. He wouldn't touch this sandwich.

Such a letdown. We really, really wanted to like it. We tried to order well to avoid disappointment. Didn't work. I may give their pizza a chance sometime, but it will be a while before I can get my guys to go back there.

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    1. Like it or not the kale is made in house my sister actually asked about the kale while she was

      there and saw the chef who makes the pizza place a tray of freshly roasted kale

      chips ( entire stalk intact ) on the counter. She asked about it, the raw kale is

      purchased from capay organic farm and the label is taken from the package of raw

      kale and placed on the mason jar that they serve the cooked kale in at the

      restaurant. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your meal there is nothing worse than

      getting home with takeout and being disappointed.

      10 Replies
      1. re: chowdom

        I don't think this cuisine lends itself to takeout; perhaps a dine-in experience would be a lot better...

        1. re: menton1

          I have only taken the roast pork on ciabatta to go ( and really liked it) . Everything else I have ordered I have eaten in house as you can see on the other Polpittina thread that foodiemom mentioned. I have had some of the same dishes that foodiemom ordered and my experience was very different in a good way. I have to agree with you in regards to many of the dishes probably best being eaten in house.

          1. re: chowdom

            Menton1, we take out from many of the same places where we eat in and the only variations are presentation and occasionally portion size. If it were dim sum and we were expecting our xiao long bao to still have hot soup in them after getting them home, or if we expected a souffle to stay risen, I definitely hear you. In this case, I can't help believing that a sandwich should be edible whether it is eaten in-house or not, unless they gave us the dregs because we were taking it to go.

            Chowdom, tell me about your roast pork sandwich. Was it pork loin or shoulder? Was it trimmed of gristle? Can you give me an idea of the overall fat-to-meat ratio? Ours was 75-25% fat-to-meat. If you really think I should try something in-house, I will.

            What I found ironic about the whole experience was that after reading every review on it I could find on-line (not just here), I discouraged my son from ordering the braised beef sandwich, his first choice, because another patron had the same experience with the beef that we had with the pork.

            1. re: foodiemom10583

              I have yet to dine here but am looking forward to it. I have to agree with menton here!! Based on what you ordered I would have eaten in. Just my opinion. But your right in regards to a sandwich. Was it a porchetta sandwich which to me should be fatty a la a great pastrami? Your desrciptions certainly make me not want to rush there. It's awful that you wasted a good amount of money on this.

              1. re: cubanat

                Hi, Cuba:
                It was described as "Roast Pork, Cilantro Cream, House Pickled Veggies, Ciabatta." No mention of it being considered porchetta. If I remember from the last time I had it at an old boyfriend's grandmother's house (many, many years ago), it was not tough and chewy, but had a lot of decent, fat-infused areas in it.. Maybe they were going for a porchetta but didn't render the fat long enough?

                I have to reiterate that the ravioli were really tasty and travelled well, but small and pricey.

                We tried hard not to rush there. I try to minimize failure when we go to a new place up here: I research it in the local papers and on-line, then get a hold of the menu and really try to choose carefully. We wait for it to be open for a couple of weeks for the bugs to be worked out, then we go.

                My biggest extravagance is good food. Not a great investment, I know, but sometimes, it's really worth it.

                Now your name combined with this thread has me thinking about pernil and Cuban sandwiches. Thanks a lot. ;)

                1. re: foodiemom10583

                  and street pizzas for a peso! hmmm...

              2. re: foodiemom10583

                Foodiemom please understand my intention is not to deny or discount what happened to you . I would have been equally horrified if I had had your experience. The restaurant has been open approximately four weeks and the owners speak freely about working out kinks, tweaking dishes, and trying new things. I have eaten food there that I have not loved and I have told them so, they encourage the feedback. I am aware that some people on this board (you know who you are) think I am in some way connected to the place but I assure you I am not. I live very close by and am beyond happy to have a local restaurant that has friendly staff, uses quality ingredients, has accessible owners who appear to be passionate about what they do, and is affordable. You would certainly be doing them a favor by telling them in detail about your experience so they can address the issues.

                That said the consistency of the roast pork in the sandwich I had resembled that of pulled pork. The fat to meat ratio was more like 20-80. I recommended Polpettina to a friend of mine Anne a chef, who trained at the French Culinary Institute. She called to tell me she picked up a pie last week she also said " I wish I had known they had table service because a lot of the food I would like to have tried I would only eat there"

                1. re: chowdom

                  I agree with Anne that pizza is better either right out of the oven (or cold in the morning as a hangover chaser, IMHO). I also wish that the sandwich had been more like pulled pork, which we all love.

                  Not to toot my own horn too much, but I catered for years, both high-end and low-end. I had the pleasure of serving Pierre Franey and his PBS show producer to high compliments. My home kitchen was personally designed by Jacques Pepin, the FCI's Dean of Special Programs. I have shopped with Julia Child (as tall and amiable as could be). I've attended classes at the CIA in Hyde Park, Peter Kump, and the old New York Restaurant School. Even my son, who has a strong interest in culinary arts since the age of 4, has been offered an internship at WD-50 by Wylie Dufresne personally when he is old enough to travel to NYC by himself. We're literally all about food in this house.

                  Some of this particular restaurant's offerings like fries bolognese (they call it "Fries Polpettina") would be better eaten in-house as well. However, I cannot defend a gristly $10 pork sandwich. A lobster roll with a butter-grilled bun? Eat it as soon as it's made. A croque madame? Eat it while the egg is still warm and the yolk runny. What bugs me is that if I can bring banh mi (or a Roll-n-Roaster roast beef or even a Joe's of Avenue U fried panelle sandwich) here from Brooklyn in the middle of the winter and it's still awesome, we should be able to bring a pork sandwich home from 10 minutes away and be able to enjoy it.

                  Chowdom, we need to sit down and have a drink (my treat). I'd be happy to bring you some loot from our next trip to Brooklyn. Name your poison (or poisson).

                  1. re: foodiemom10583

                    I wish we could have met for lunch today I just ate a small order of truffled chicken liver mousse and a small order of buckwheat noodles in a kimchi broth ( I love this place). Foodiemom Anne enjoyed the pizza she picked up, she was referring to some of the other menu items that she would rather eat in house. The sandwich I believe is braised pork belly and Asian inspired. I eat in Brooklyn frequently and feel Polpettina is as good as many of the places I have eaten in there. I am okay with you not liking Polpettina... Your offer is very kind

                    1. re: chowdom

                      Ooh, I wish I had met you for lunch that day. I ended up with some nontruffled chicken liver mousse for dinner and it wasn't fabulous, but I needed my pre-Pesach craving for liver on matzo filled ASAP. The kimchee broth must have given the noodles a lovely kick. I'm jealous.

                      One of these days, we'll have to do lunch. I'm in Scarsdale (not the village). If we're in Brooklyn, we can do L&B for a square slice (or two)! I might even bring a pie back from there. Never brought one past Ocean Parkway, but I'd give it a shot. Not DiFara's, though. It will soak through the box by the time we hit the Battery Tunnel.

        2. I continue to enjoy Polpettina, attached are photos from a few recent lunches: fig,prosciutto, goat cheese, arugula pizza and sausage bread, round pie, buckwheat noodles in kimchi broth, truffled chicken liver mousse and potato and kale soup.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowdom

            And a recent dinner:
            Burrata, bocconcini, tomato salad, farmhouse salad, scallops with potato, spinach in a tomato butter sauce.