A Touch of Sweetness, Abboccato Italian Kitchen

March 16, 2014 Updated: March 14, 2014

Just as its name says, “pleasing to the mouth” or “a touch of sweetness,” there is definitely a touch of sweetness to Abboccato Italian Kitchen. Thanks to the meticulous service and excellent food, dining there is a soul-satisfying experience.

Abboccato Italian Kitchen, on W. 55th Street, is part of the Livanos Restaurant Group, which also includes Molyvos and Oceana, in addition to others in New Jersey and Connecticut.

The interior has a rustic feel, blending well with the melodies of some of the greatest voices of the 20th century, Mario Lanza and Edith Piaf.

After a few years working at Abboccato as chef de cuisine, David Arias was promoted to executive chef. In the past, he’s worked with renowned chefs including Richard Farnabe and Todd English.

The menu offerings are a fresh, hearty interpretation of regional Italian cuisine. Options feature cicchetti, or small bites for sharing, that include arancini (crisp risotto fritters), and grilled shrimp oreganata. There is also a six-course chef’s tasting menu for $60 per person that is worth trying.

Everything is handmade in-house including the breads, pastas, and desserts. The prices are reasonable, while the service is impeccable.

My meal started off well with a house-made burrata mozzarella. Creamy and luscious, it sat on a bed of arugula salad, garnished with drizzles of olive oil and pomegranate seeds.

The exquisite grilled octopus ($17) was a piece of art, beautifully prepared and with a fabulous combination of cannellini bean stew and pancetta, surrounded by droplets of salsa verde. It made me want to keep on eating.

The pappardelle with roasted porcini cream, truffle, and Grana Padano ($22) was a perfect example of true comfort food. Bite by bite, it was soulful and warm, with subtle and elegant flavors of the earth.

I found the grilled yellowfin tuna ($30) with citrus sauce disappointing. While the sauce tasted good by itself, it was too overpowering for this mild and tender meat. Tuna, in my opinion, is best lightly sautéed with a dash of salt and pepper, or eaten raw.

However, the veal shank “osso bucco” ($32) with soft, white polenta made in-house and Parmigiano Reggiano was divine. Bold with layered flavors, braised, and slow-cooked for a long time with a tomato-based sauce, the meat was meltingly tender. And I can still taste the sweet, creamy polenta.

The chocolate bomb, a thin layer of chocolate filled with Nutella mousse, crème brûlée and gianduja sauce ($7), made a perfect ending to the meal—not too sweet, fluffy, and light.

Cocktails from the bar with herb- and fresh fruit-infused ice cubes with traditional Italian spirits make a nice beginning to the meal. Italian wines at reasonable prices are also available.

Abboccato Italian Kitchen
136 W. 55th St.
Sunday–Saturday 7:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Monday–Saturday noon–3 p.m.
Sunday 4 p.m.–10 p.m.
Monday 5p.m.–10 p.m.
Tuesday–Saturday 5 p.m.–11 p.m.