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A Tale of Two White Truffle Dinners: Sapori D'Ischia Truffle Festival 2011

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As usual, full review with pics at the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

Please note that the full review involves both a restaurant in Manhattan and a restaurant in Queens. This thread is only about Sapori D'Ischia. To read the Locanda Verde post on the Manhattan Board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/816054

The second dinner was at Sapori D'Ishcia in Woodside, Queens. They hold their 2011 Truffle Festival from late October until they run out, offering a different four-course white truffle tasting dinner for $60 every Tuesday night. I read somewhere that the owner's father is actually from Piedmont and gets their truffles himself. It was also my first time at this restaurant.

The service:
Pleasant, efficient, and unobtrusive. Although it wouldn't surprise me if this may depend specifically on your server. Note that they only have bottled water, and at the end of the meal, they offered a 10% discount if we paid in cash.

The ambiance:
A pleasant surprise considering it is kind of in the middle of nowhere in a quiet warehouse area in Woodside. It had the feel of a cozy old-school Italian eatery. It was dark, but the restaurant had a nice buzz. At the back wall of the restaurant, they have shelves and a freezer section with retail food items as they are still very much a food market storefront, although I assume that has taken a backseat to the restaurant in recent years.

The food:
RICOTTINA DI BUFALA, SPEK ALTO ADIGE D.O.P., SMOKED PROSCIUTTO, PEASANT BREAD The first thing that hit me when the dish came was the smell of truffle oil. There were real white truffle shavings, which I felt had a slightly different aroma than the most powerful smell of the dish. Regardless, it was a wonderful dish. The smokiness of the prosciutto paired with the creamy cheese, enhanced by the aroma of truffles. The inclusion of greens and bread helped to round out the spectrum of textures in each bite.

HOMEMADE PORCINI SCENTED FETTUCINE, WHITE TRUFFLE CREAM SAUCE The pasta was absolutely delicious. Perfect texture. Wonderful cream sauce that brought out the truffle aroma and the accent of porcini.

PAN SEARED VEAL MEDALLIONS, RUSTIC POTATO TORTINA, BARBARESCO RED WINE REDUCTION Beautifully cooked, sizeable portions of veal were enhanced by the presence of white truffles. The potato and vegetables were a nice touch to a well composed main course.

VALROHNA COCAO DUSTED CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE, MASCARPONE WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP GELATO, DRIZZLED WITH WHITE TRUFFLE HONEY I enjoyed the gelato a lot, with that subtle sweet hint of truffle honey. I just wished there was more of it.

The comparison:
The truffle shavings at Locanda Verde were more generous, but it was a more complete meal with bigger portions at Sapori D'Ischia. Also, their truffles have to last for a while longer. Which is another bonus in that this is still going on, while Trufflepalooza was a one night event.

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Sapori d'Ischia
55-15 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

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  1. I believe that the father of the owner, Frank, hails from Casamicciola, on Ischia. But that small detail aside, thank you for taking the time to report back. Were the white truffles shaved at table?

    I've dined there quite a few times as relatives are enamored, but have never had the truffle dinner.

    2 Replies
    1. re: erica

      I had a truffle dinner there a few years back and they shaved them at the table. This used to be my goto restaurant, but I feel that the service has deteriorated quite a bit over the years.

      1. re: erica

        Oh, thanks for the clarification. Makes sense given the name.

        No, the truffles were not shaved at the table. My guess is with so many truffle dishes being sent out they just don't have the time.

      2. I had a similar dinner here last night, the dominant flavors are truffle-oil. We did not enjoy our meal, perhaps we've been spoiled with Truffles in Italy. In the heart of Piemonte you pay $30 or so for one dish with a generous shaving of truffles, so to expect a three or four course truffle dinner in NY for $60 to be of the same quality is wishful thinking.

        8 Replies
        1. re: DavyTheFatBoy

          I was there again last night. We were the table of six deep in the back corner. I thought it was good, but I liked the menu last week more. I noted that they did use truffle oil.

          As far as expectations go, you just can't make that kind of comparison imo. For me the appropriate comparison is the fact that any truffle shaving supplement in NYC will cost you at least the same amount as the entire meal. If you compare directly to your experience in Italy on an absolute cost basis, you will not enjoy any truffle meal in NYC (or possibly anywhere else in the world that has to import the truffles).

          By the way, the 10% cash discount does not apply to the truffle menu as it turns out.

          1. re: fooder

            Looking at last week's menu you posted, I find myself wishing we had the fettucini for our dinner last night instead of the risotto. Heh. I'm just a much bigger fan of pasta than risotto.

            I agree that the antipasto and the pasta (risotto) courses were dominated by truffle oil, but there was little if any truffle oil in the meat and dessert courses. The steak was tasty coated in a truffle-topped creamy-butter sauce and was well-cooked in spite of the fact they used a lean cut. The accompanying vegetable (kale?) and the potato cake were both excellent and made the dish homey and comforting.

            The dessert was poached pear with truffle-enhanced ice cream and was my favorite dish of the night. The pear was well spiced and sweet and lovely. The ice cream was creamy and enticing with the lovely scent of truffle. The entire table was completely silent as we devoured our plates.

            All in all, a great meal, made even better by the fellow Chowhound company I met last night. Thanks a lot to fooder for organizing everything! :)

            1. re: Cheeryvisage

              Finally uploaded the photos. Please see the photos of the truffle tasting dinner here:

              http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwFuAuX

            2. re: fooder

              They used truffle oil? Oil that's been steeped with truffles or the synthetic flavor oil?

              1. re: Pookipichu

                the synthetic flavor oil
                to my knowledge steeping truffles in oil does not impart the aroma

                1. re: fooder

                  eggsactly, that's my understanding as well. Which is why I'm surprised they would use synthetic oil in dishes with real truffles.

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    Me, too, unless they are not using the best quality Piedmont white truffles..but who knows.

                    1. re: erica

                      I thought the owner's father is a truffle forager? That's how they get the truffles...