Back to New York! Wasn't that a movie? Or an MTV Real World season subtitle? Either way, I couldn't let too much more time go by without telling you about brunch at Locanda Verde. This was another one of the "must dos" on our list, and we were very glad we made it. Locanda Verde is one of those rare restaurants not in a hotel that is open all day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It worked out well for us to have brunch there, and then scoot over to Brooklyn for the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory tour, which started at 1:30 PM.
Locanda Verde strikes me above all, as a Restaurant for Everyone, and it seemed like just about everyone was there - parents, kids, girlfriends, mother-daughter pairs, dates, you name it. It was crowded, but luckily they take reservations - kind of rare for a brunch place, but it makes all the difference. The menu is just different enough to be interesting, and everything sounds delicious, which makes it hard to choose.
We settled on a first course of "burnt orange toast" with house made sheep's milk ricotta and truffle honey. I've had good bread before, and I've had homemade ricotta and honey before, but I've never had anything that tasted like this. It was the best of both worlds and then some, with the gooey, sticky cheese, slightly bitter toast and earthy honey. We weren't the only ones with the good taste to order this, we saw it on almost every table in the dining room.
For my "main course" - I chose a soft scrambled egg "crostino" served with a slice of ham and mushroom salad. The eggs were perfectly cooked and the ham was lovely - but the salad was surprisingly delicious - a little tangle of curly endive accented with the rich umami flavors of mushrooms and parmesan.
Rorie chose the Lemon Ricotta pancakes, served with lemon curd and blueberries - with a side of bacon. Restaurant pancakes can be tough, dry or both, but these were just right - and the creamy, rich lemon curd was a stellar accompaniment.
While we were there, I noticed quite a few people coming in and walking over to the coffee bar in a corner of the dining room - the set up is really darling, and if our meal is any indication, I'm sure the pastries and coffee are divine.
Seeing this also drove home for me just how incredibly spoiled New Yorkers are. If this was around the corner from your house, how would you not stop by there every morning? How would you feel when you travel to another city where Starbucks is the only option? How do you not gain 6000 pounds from all the breakfast pastry options calling your name on the way to work? Then I thought, maybe it's not that different from my experience living in San Francisco. After a few months of going crazy on all the great stuff there I realized three things: 1) it was expensive; 2) it would be the death of me; and 3) it would always be there. Likewise, I wouldn't be surprised if doughnuts from Locanda Verde are considered a special treat, even in New York.