Written by Hulda Lawrence
For 22 years, the Lattanzi family has been serving food from Rome with an emphasis on the delights of he Jewish cuisine at 361 West 46th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, (212) 315-0990. Established in a charming old-fashioned brownstone, diners enjoy quiet and a sense of remoteness from the noise and bustle of midtown. Tables are set far enough apart for private conversations, and service is excellent.
When we appeared for lunch on a recent afternoon, we were escorted inside where we glimpsed a bar and several rooms for diners. The tables are set with linen and the lamps are shielded with large napkins. Fresh flowers are on each table. It seems almost like a grotto with a wood-burning fireplace a major accessory in the room.
Our waiter, Luis from Ecuador, brought us a plate of several antipasti so we could sample more that one. Outstanding were the Carciofi alla Giudia, artichokes done in olive oil and garlic, a specialty of the Jewish cuisine. Mozzarella with sliced tomato, a large Portobella mushroom and tiny shrimp with green beans were other dishes. Each was fine and we were glad to have so much variety. We enjoyed a special treat to accompany our antipasti - crisp matzoh baked with fresh garlic comes right from the oven to the table. Other antipasti include Antipasto di Vegatali, mixed grilled vegetables; Carpaccio di Salmone or Carpaccio Affumicato, thin sliced beef with Parmesan cheese; and Prosciutto di Parma e Melone. Antipasti are $13 to $15.
Our Second Piatti also was a platter of "tastes." There was Ravioli con Funghi, Risotto all'Ortolana, a delicious vegetable mix, and Fettuccine al Ragu. Each was fine. Pasta and risotto are $18 to $24. Half orders of pasta are $13. Risotto can also be ordered with seafood as an ingredient.
Our pesce entrée was Red Snapper with spinach and potatoes with onions. Other entrees include chicken done in several styles and veal scaloppini in different ways, as well as veal chops. There also is an intriguing seafood and fish menu.
By the way, Cucina Ebraica Romana is available for both lunch and dinner. Such choices as Trigliette all'Ebraica, red snapper with raisins and vinegar; Braised Beef Shank with Corn Meal; and Veal Roast are always available. Other Ebraica dishes are Marinated Eggplant, Mozzarella and rice ball appetizers, Stracciatella and Lasagne Verdi, Fettuccine allo Stracotto. Chicken with Rosemary, Lamb Chops and Fillet of Sole with endive and vinegar are other entrees.
There is an ample wine list both of bottles and glasses. Our glasses were a Merlot for me and Pinot Grigio for my companion and were $10 each.
Of course, there also are a variety of salads and soups. We ended our superior luncheon with a plate of desserts ncluding a wonderful flaky Napoleon, an orange stuffed with sorbet, and strawberries with a custard sauce. This charming place has private rooms on an upper floor and a handsome garden Terrazzo with old trees to provide shade.
Hours: Lunch Monday to Friday noon to 2:30 p.m.
The midtown of Manhattan has had a plethora of restaurants devoted to steak and the males who love it. And it is great to report that A. J. Maxwell's Steakhouse at 57 West 48th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, (212) 262-6200 is the latest. It is located where The Forum of the Twelve Caesars once stood and has a simple décor with no frills and a larger more comfortable ladies room one flight down. It seems as though diners are entering a private club. In fact, the bar area is set as a private dining room spot for light foods and sandwiches.
Although we knew that our main dish would be steak, our waiter, Joseph, from Italy and Barcelona informed us that the day's appetizer special was Lobster Risotto and urged us to try it. We followed his advice and were happy that we did. It was a delicious choice.
After our risotto we shared two beef selections: a Dry-aged Bone-in Rib Eye at $43 and marvelous Pinot Noir Braised Short Ribs at $29.
With these great meats we sampled such sides and Macaroni and Cheese, Broccoli Rabe with Black Olives, and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Parmesan. Sides are $8 to $10.
Prices are not low, but portions are large and service is subtle and good. Excellent breads are presented, and from the extensive wine list we drank Merlot, for me, and Pinot Grigio for my companion.
Among the other dishes available are the John D. Salad of shrimps, tomato, onion, bacon with a vinaigrette sauce; French Onion Soup; and Pea Soup. Fish includes Horseradish Crusted Salmon, Seared Maine Day-Boat Scallops, Sesame Seed Bluefin Tuna, Sauteed Colossal Shrimp Scampi and Grilled Halibut. Fish and seafood prices are $27 to $33. The Three Claws Lobster is market price.
Other popular dishes are Lemon Rosemary Half-Roasted Amish Chicken, Orecchiette with Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, Sauteed Veal in several ways, and Tournedos Neptune (medallions of fish on a bed of Crabmeat with bearnaise sauce) at $26 to $43. Louis the XIV Filet Mignon with foie gras and port wine sauce is $53.
We spoke with Chef Jean Christopher Villard and complimented him on the extent and quality of his menu before taking his advice for our desserts. We shared a fine Key Lime Pie and a good Tahitian Vanilla Crème Brulee. Other desserts include Tiramisu, Chocolate Cake, Profiteroles, Carrot Cake, Caramel Fudge Pecan Cake, Upside Down Apple Tart, New York Cheesecake and Strawberries, Tartufo, and Ice Creams and Sorbets. Desserts are $8.
Hours: Lunch and Dinner Monday - Friday 11:45 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.