I love food and I love eating and I like to think I know a little bit about good restaurants thanks to trips with my food-fanatic father to places like China Grill and TAO. When I moved to the city in the fall of 2013 and created a bucket list, it quickly became a list of places to eat. I was told L'Asso had to be put on the list so Friday night, that's where we ventured. I'll give you a sneak peak of the evening if you promise to keep reading!
(You know you want to keep reading about all this delicious-ness!)
As a general rule of thumb, I like eating healthy. People may think I'm weird but I look forward to my bowl of oatmeal, even though I eat the same thing almost every morning. Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes, kale chips- all things that excite my tummy while other people give me weird looks. Give me quinoa over pasta any day (or at least give me brown rice pasta!)
But just because I am fortunate enough to enjoy eating healthy foods doesn't mean I have deluded my taste buds into thinking cauliflower crust pizza is an equal swap for a slice of cheesy, greasy New York pizza (although I do think cauliflower crust pizza deserves another try after my failed attempt last year). And Arctic Zero, though fun to eat an entire pint for 150 calories, is just simply not a substitute for a pint of Ben and Jerry's. I know I am more physically active than a majority of people and a lot of the time, though certainly not all of the time, I eat healthier too. So a night out for pizza and dessert? Sign me up.
L'Asso is located in Nolita on Mott St. between Spring and Kenmare streets. It's got a solid 4 star rating on Yelp- if you're into that sorta thing! The inside is small and a little cramped- but that's par for the course in New York City and tends to add to the charm.
Instant bonus? The Diet Cokes we ordered came in little glass bottles! When the waiter tried to clear them from the table I nearly bit his head off- asking if I could take them home with me! Instead of giving me a strange look, he offered to rinse them for me, which was greatly appreciated. (I proceeded to spend the rest of the evening fending off over-eager table clearers to protect my adorable little Coke bottles!)
(My orchid and baby Coke bottles look cute together, don't you think?)
We placed our order- which was instantly recognized by the waiter as a vegetarian one (high fives for meatless camaraderie and for supportive friends willing to forego drool-worthy meatballs).
To start, we had the ricotta bruschetta- amazing bread topped with amazing ricotta, pieces of orange, slivered almonds and honey. Did I use the word amazing yet? Seriously. This reminded me of how amazing (oops) ricotta is. And paired with the sweetness from the oranges, it was...yeah, amazing. And it was just the start of my carb and cheese overload.
Of course, we had to order a salad because I LOVE VEGGIES! I was allowed to choose- and after trying to mentally weight my love for pears and walnuts against my love of pistachios and goat cheese- I settled on the L'Asso. Plus, salad named after the restaurant has gotta be pretty good, right?
The L'Asso came with mixed greens, asparagus, fennel, hearts of palm, goat cheese and pistachios. "What's fennel?" we asked ourselves. One bite and I remembered what fennel was. Evil. It's a vegetable that tastes like black licorice- one of the few flavors I absolutely cannot stand. Yuck! Luckily, it was not big thang to just eat around the fennel and it's evilness didn't contaminate the rest of our salad. The salad was good, but not life changing (yes, salads can be so delicious that they change your life- don't give me that look of bewilderment and doubt!) Second cheese of the night, goat cheese, was delicious in the salad. Love pistachios. And the hearts of palm were a nice touch. The asparagus didn't add much though and now that I think about it the dressing was pretty unremarkable although I appreciated the fact that my salad ingredients weren't in a swimming pool of dressing!
Moving on to the main event- the thin-crust pizza. 23 options. If you've never met me, which, for most people reading this I'm assuming we have never met, me and decisions do. not. mix. The 8 salads I had to choose between were one thing but 23 pizzas with toppings like portobello pesto, apple, walnuts and zucchini? Forget it.
Luckily, I had had some time to prepare. And by prepare, I mean read each pizza description multiple times throughout the day as I sat at my desk at work. Oops.
I noticed a lot of the pizzas came with truffle oil- another flavor I'm not too keen on (I'm the world's least picky eater though, I swear!) and while I'm usually the annoying girl at the restaurant making a million and one substitutions to every dish, I decided there were 23 freakin' pizza options and I should just order one that didn't have truffle oil (but mozzarella, gorgonzola, asparagus, apple & truffle oil, you sound so yum!) That left me with a few stand outs and some big decisions. Thank God we had decided to go for the 21" pie which meant we could pick two varieties! Honorable mention: I'm sorry you weren't chosen Friday night, but maybe you'll meet my belly one day. The Prophet Pistachio- homemade basil pesto, smoked mozzarella, pistachios, arugula, olive oil and parmesan. Our salad already had pistachios though, which is why you were cut. Next time.
So what DID we order? The Megane, sans bacon (Ok, ok so I still ended up altering the order- I'm a pain in the ass what can I say?) and the Alla Roba.
I'll start with the Megane- roasted brussel sprouts, smoked and regular mozzarella (cheese #3 and #4 of the night), rosemary and extra virgin olive oil. Yum. I don't really have a detailed analysis except to say that it was delicious and I love brussel sprouts. A lot.
(The Megane- yummy yummy brussel sprouts)
The Megane was definitely my favorite of the two because while the All Roba (mozzarella, gorgonzola (cheese #5), pear and walnut) was enjoyable, it had a definite truffle oil-y taste that I wasn't digging!
(Alla Roba- Pizza and pears? I dig it.)
I'm not a pizza connoisseur- I like most pizza that I eat- so I won't get too deep about the crust quality and the dough to cheese ratio and all that jazz. I liked that while it was thin-crust pizza, it was still doughy and not super crispy/crunch, just a personal preference.
I am incredibly proud and entirely ashamed to report that we finished every last bite.
But why stop there, with stomachs full of more bread and cheese than I typically consumer in a month? It was time for dessert, obviously.
My sweet tooth has a lot in common with Miley Cyrus- it cannot be tamed. And it was with this sweet tooth that I gleefully walked into the Hitch-famous Rice to Riches to get my rice pudding on!
(What do you mean I have to make MORE decisions?!)
Not going to lie- while extremely clever and entertaining, the decor at Rice to Riches can be a little unsettling for a person who puts a lot of time and effort into being healthy and in shape. My pants felt noticeably tighter as I read the "We put the XXX in XXXL" sign and I was already planning my next gym session when I spotted the "No Skinny Bitches!" magnets being sold. "How bad for you is this stuff?" I thought to myself. And OK, maybe I tried to quickly Google "Rice to Riches nutrition facts" as we waited to be helped. But as soon as we got our first sample spoon of Fluent in French Toast- I was in dessert mode and there were no fat jokes or calorie counts that were going to stop me!
(Meh to your signs Rice to Riches!)
About 10 samples later (Almond Schmalmond, Be My Banana Coconut and Coffee Almond Afterthought- we like nuts) we settled on ordering a larger size so we could get two flavors- because again, decisions and I do not get along and my taste buds are often very demanding in their desires. We got Fluent in French Toast and Cofee Almond Afterthought. But the best part? The "Mischief" topping- buttery graham crumble. Uhm, yes. Although rice pudding is never a dessert I crave or order out- there's no doubt this stuff is addictive-ly awesome. And a great end to an entirely unhealthy and satisfying night.