Portuguese Octopus from Al Vicoletto
Sometimes the tastiest food is right under your nose. Case in point: Al Vicoletto, an Italian restaurant in Union Square which is quite literally across the street from where I work. Opened in 2015, the restaurant has quickly gained a reputation for serving up lean, healthy Italian food. My boss wanted to meet me for lunch and suggested Al Vicoletto. He chose a pasta dish, but I wasn't really in a pasta mood so I scoured the menu for something else. The Grilled Portuguese Octopus ($15) caught my eye, as I love octopus when it's done right, but it's not a food I have too often. The octopus is served over polenta, with a paprika butter sauce and salad greens. Upon first bite I was extremely happy I chose this dish. The octopus was tender and flavorful, not chewy at all. The paprika butter sauce complemented the octopus well, and I had no trouble at all eating everything on the plate; I thought the portion size was just right.
Al Vicoletto serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also has a deli (perfect for picking up a panini to-go) and a wine bar. Tucked into the bottom floor of West 17th Street, the beautiful, grey-tiled restaurant is the Italian response to the American way of life. In Italian, Vicoletto means 'alleyway or side street'. One of the owners, Albert Tartari, wanted to move away from the Italian custom of multiple courses. Rather, Al Vicoletto serves up tapas or starters so that guests can sample a few different dishes at once. Also on the menu is Alberto's special focaccia romana: baked pizza dough topped with tomato, basil and homemade pesto. Customers can also pick up gourmet Italian goods like olive oil, pasta, espresso and many other imported items.
I'll definitely be returning to Al Vicoletto in the near future to try their pasta and of course, the focaccia romana.
Al Vicoletto: 9 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003