Monday, April 23, 2007

New York City: Salute! not just a meal, it’s an experience

I took this shot when we visited the Empire State Building. You can see the form of the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

(First in a series about visiting New York for the American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference)

If you could pick one word to describe New York City, that word would be adrenalin. The cabbies run on it, pedestrians walk at an adrenalin-filled pace, and the combined noise of horns blowing, motors revving and voices speaking in diverse languages fill the air.

I was in New York last week for the ASJA conference. Those four days were packed with activity, but we managed to fit in a few hours of down time as well. The night we discovered Salute! on Madison Avenue was balm for two weary travelers.

We were looking for a place to eat, and the concierge at The Grand Hyatt recommended the Italian restaurant Salute!. We walked half a dozen blocks or so, and as soon as we were in the door, the ambience alone relaxed our tense muscles. We arrived starving. I’d had a small salad for lunch and that was the sum total of what I’d eaten all day.

The white décor, mosaic tile floor and soft lighting, with windows offering a view of Madison Avenue, set a tone that seemed in keeping with an Italian villa. Artwork hanging on the walls is curated by Leah Poller of the Art Alliance of Soho. The décor is classy, simple but elegant.

We ordered the Arneis Blange 2003 Ceretto. Our server brought out bread with a tray holding eggplant, olive oil and an anchovy spread.

We both had the Salute insalate—watercress, endive, gorgonzola, spicy pecans and pears in a champagne vinaigrette.

For my entrée, I chose the filetto di manzo—a roast filet mignon with porcini potato puree, green and yellow wax beans, and gremolata butter. My husband chose di manzo con panna—braised beef ravioli with prosciutto, wild mushrooms and cream.

After our meal, we had coffee with biscotti and a fruit plate that was presented like a work of art—fresh raspberries, strawberries and blueberries encircled in thin strips of fresh pineapple. Actually, every item brought to us was presented like a work of art.

If taste buds could dance, mine would’ve been doing a jitterbug.

All this was served by a series of experts who knew how to make us feel welcome, but were never intrusive. As we dined, the owner himself strolled throughout the restaurant, checking everything, making certain all was in order. We lingered over coffee, savoring a break in a hectic schedule. For two years, we couldn't coordinate a celebration of our wedding anniversary. We were in two different cities on that date for two years running. This evening made the wait worthwhile--we celebrated anniversary 30 and 31.

On the Web site, owner Gennaro Sbarro says, “I invite you to dine at Salute! as I would in my own home.”

That’s exactly how our evening felt. And the next time I’m in New York, I’ll head back to this fine restaurant. That evening wasn’t just a meal. It was an experience I will long remember. After our meal, we walked off some calories, taking in the sights, sounds and adrenalin that define New York City.

If you’re looking for a place to eat in Manhattan, I highly recommend Salute! I’m not a food critic, but I’ve had many meals in various parts of the world in restaurants ranked as top tier. None are better than the dining experience two weary travelers had that evening in Salute!.
Visit Salute! on the Web:

No comments: