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.
Replying to Steven Smith
What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.