Stefano Cechi's restaurant is often considered the finest example of the cuisine of Emilia Romagna, centering around jaw-dropping hand-made pastas.

I was glad to grab a reservation a bit late to return to this incredible restaurant. It's as close as you can get to Northern Italy in the US (that I've found). Phenomenal, simple cooking. For me, what stands out most in each dish is the sourcing. Everything is so fresh and perfect. Where do you get scallops this big that taste like they were just plucked from the sea? The lettuce in the salad is just right, and served perfectly chilled. It wouldn't work with a different type of lettuce, or one less fresh. The olive oil is glorious. Even the salt and pepper...just right in substance and flavor.

That is where Rezdora shines. Sure - they have tremendous recipes, make phenomenal pasta from scratch, cook steak and scallops to perfection. But the quality of the ingredient(s) you are eating shows a strong and deft commitment to being sure that their quality starts with provisioning. Each dish would lose so much if the components were less on point.

Service was a bit frenetic. They pack a lot of people into that small place. And another table our server managed had some sort of issue that required a good deal of his time. Still, he was friendly and committed to our experience. 

The ragu stole the show. I wish I had videoed my friend's face as she took her first bite of it. It doesn't look like much, but wow does it pack incredible flavor. Woven together with such a beautiful pasta cooked to a perfect al dente. Of course, their signature Grandma Walking does the same - makes you shake your head that something can be so delicious.

We tried a few of their mains. The scallops were over-salted, but cooked to perfection...which can't be easy when they're so enormous. I ordered the ribeye, which I've read raves about. Hoping for melt-in-your-mouth fattiness, I instead received firm and substantive beef. This was clearly from the dry-aging, so shame on me for not anticipating that. However, the beef was of very high quality, perfectly cooked and seasoned to perfection.

The reviews for Rezdora are all over the place. Complaints range from "It's crowded" (it is...), "It's loud" (it is...) and "It's expensive for a small plate of pasta" (maybe, but you're paying for quality here). I have come away both times feeling very much like I've had my money's worth and that I'm so delighted I was able to eat here.

I'll be back. You should come.

Ever since attending the New York Wine and Food Festival and having Chef Stefano Secchi's signature dish "Grandma Walking Through Forest in Emilia", I knew a visit to his restaurant Rezdora was in my future. It was simply one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had. 

So we came for lunch. Rezdora is a small, cramped space that they make the most of. A few years ago, I went to northern Italy and ate some of the best food on planet earth, including at Secchi's alma mater Osteria Francescana. I'm hardly a connoisseur but it's difficult not to fall in love with the pure beauty and luxury ingredients Italy has to offer. Their dishes are more about getting out of the way of these amazing foods and assembling them so that they shine. Tomatoes, lemons, olive oils...they're just so good over there!

Italian places (even Northern Italian places) in the US have difficulty delivering the same experience. Because the ingredients are just not the same (read: not as good) over here. Once you've had a San Marzano tomato, you know everything else is competing for 2nd place. Same with Italian olive oil. Or their pastas. On and on.

Somehow, Rezdora has cracked the code.

The food here is not only sublime, and not simply prepared with incredible skill and love, but each individual product on the plate is spectacular. Take the salad, for example. I can't describe how simple it was: firm gem lettuce cut in half, smooth goat cheese, sheet of parm, olive oil, pepper. That was it. But let me tell you, it was one of the best salads of my life. So much flavor. So simple. So delicious. Even the temperature of everything was perfect (cold lettuce embracing the smooth cheese and accentuating the warm olive oil). Had we not had too much pasta coming, I would have ordered another one on the spot. I almost ordered it for dessert.

His pastas are just incredible. "Hand-made" doesn't give enough credit to how perfectly each strand is prepared and how beautifully it is cooked. Each plate felt individually made - not part of a larger restaurant "machine" that can turn out this level of food again and again. Achieving consistency at this high of a level is a marvel. Secchi has it nailed.

Our server (Sam) was tremendous. Friendly, engaging, on top of things. 

If you go, I recommend requesting the room up the stairs in the back. It's not as tight and loud as the bar area. 

I am very glad I don't live in New York City near a place like this. I could go once a week and be consistently happy at enjoying this food. They are not imitating Italy. They are replicating it. There's a reason reservations are so difficult here. But oh so worth it.

Add Rezdora to my favorite NYC restaurants. I can not wait to return.

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