The restaurant is modern and upbeat. None of the old heavy reds and thick carpets common in many traditional Italian restaurants. I noticed that the tables were not tightly pushed together as so often happens. We were seated in such a way that no one was near us. What a relief.
Our waitress, Aygul, was friendly, warm and very knowledgeable. Another relief. We struck up conversation very easily. She helped us through the entire meal effortlessly. She's a real pro.
|Sardinian Argiolas Vermentino|
|Terrina Di Mare|
I ordered the Terrina Di Mare: shelled mussels, shrimp, lemon, butter, white wine and Calabrian red pepper. This appetizer came with a light sauce perfect for dunking. It was perfectly cooked, nothing overdone. The taste was scrumptious. We used up all our Italian bread dunking into the savory seafood sauce.
|Spaghetti Alla Chitarra|
|Pappardelle Wild Boar Ragu|
We thought we were finished after the entrees but Aygul tempted us with the homemade Ricotta Cheese Cake. What an ending. A superb rendition of the common cheese cake that was worth waiting for. Rich, smooth in texture and highly satisfying to the palate.
At the end of the meal, Chef Raffale Ronca came out to greet us. We had a very nice conversation and thanked him for creating such a great culinary establishment. He was very gracious. To top it off, as Chef Ronca was leaving us, Alan Alda walked by on his way to his table. I had the brief opportunity to engage him and thank him for his work. A nice touch.
Mary and I both highly recommend Rafele. It's modern, airy, and upbeat. The wait staff is very professional and attentive. The food, however, is the star. Fresh, high quality ingredients cooked to perfection and very tasty. Not overwhelming, very well balanced. The portions are moderate in size and reminiscent of the portions served in Italy. Prices are moderate, lower than we expected, and quite good for Manhattan.
Rafele may be the best Italian restaurant we've experienced in many years. We plan to return as soon and as often as we can. Give it a try.
Rafele is located at 29 7th Ave. South in the West Village, 212 242-1990.