Recently at Dopo East on the Upper East Side, I had an off-the-menu pasta dish that I can still taste. It was marvelous. It made me think of Federico Fellini who said, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” It was simple, with tomato sauce and mussels and cooked in white wine. It made me feel as if I had taken a leap toward immortality upon the first bite. But as we know, the greatest dishes are very simple.
Dopo East is well worth visiting, especially if like me, you enjoy good, simple, and uncomplicated dishes. Here the talented chefs create masterpieces that respect the natural flavors of the ingredients.
A Feeling of Home
Tucked in a gracious, contemporary townhouse on the Upper East Side, Dopo East gives you the feeling of being at home. The setting is crisp, clean, and warm. It is soothing and comforting. As you enter, you are faced with a little bar stacked with a good selection of spirits and wines.
(Courtesy of Dopo East)
Delicious aromas emanate from the kitchen. It reminded me of happy visits to my grandmother’s, where the temptation of going into the kitchen was always greater than sitting at the table.
We sat facing the glassed-in outdoor room decorated with plants, dim lights, and under the stars. “It will soon be a dining room for our guests to enjoy,” our waiter said.
The menu is carefully crafted by a very talented chef, just recently arrived from Italy. Before coming to New York City, chef Giuseppe Moschiano was chef de cuisine at Palazzo Mastroddi in L’Aquila, and at Grand Hotel Duca d’Este in Rome. Moschiano’s heritage is Neapolitan and Apulian, and he understands the cuisine of his native country.
His passion for food is evident in every dish that he creates. Everything is made in-house using locally and organically grown ingredients from the Union Square greenmarket. The meat is hormone-free while the seafood is personally picked from the fish market.
The menu features exciting and eclectic choices that change seasonally.
The Carpaccio di Bosco ($18) caught my interest. It was beyond imagination and superbly done. The smooth and paper-thin slices of portobello blended well with mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. The vinegar that came in the form of caviar was a pleasing surprise.
My friend ordered the Piovra alla Griglia ($18). The grilled octopus came with baby artichokes, and new potatoes with lemon garlic vinaigrette. It is not easy to cook octopus; overcooking will make it tough. It requires many steps and perfect timing. This one was excellent—tender and soft with a touch of char.
There were many temptations to choose from the main courses, between the Filetto di Agnello alla Griglia ($33), a grilled lamb tenderloin or the Bistecca alla Griglia ($30 ), a 28-day dry aged rib-eye steak the waiter recommended.
In the end, we opted for a lighter choice of Branzino in Padella ($29). Its shining surface looked marbleized as it sat over a mound of fresh, crunchy medley of green asparagus, fresh corn, turnips, and almond gremolada, with a little pond of brilliant green cilantro paste on one side and little drops of lemon-mayo on the other.
Branzino in Padella (Courtesy of Dopo East)
Like the rest of the menu, the desserts are light. There’s bonet, a dessert consisting of chocolate flan, amaretti crumbs, and blood orange. The tiramisu, with a crunch of almonds, is shot through with dark bitter chocolate powder to offset the sweet cream.
Bonet (Courtesy of Dopo East)
345 E. 62nd St.
Tuesday–Saturday 5 p.m.–11 p.m.