|Fried squash blossoms.|
Whenever I open a restaurant's Word doc, it's always interesting to see how far down that I need to scroll to make the newest entry. Some restaurants have notes from only one previous meal, while others - such as Cochon Butcher or Felipe's - are filled with reflections from 20 or more visits.
But the restaurant with the most entries by far is Domenica. I counted 36 entries the other day, and I would estimate that I left off another dozen or so. Our repeat business is a reflection of a number of factors: (1) the convenience of living 3 blocks away; (2) the convenience of working 4 blocks away; (3) The Folk Singer's school girl crush on Chef Alon Shaya; and (4) the fact that Domenica is simply our favorite restaurant in the city. It's no surprise that after a 3 day evacuation for Hurricane Isaac, Domenica was our first stop upon returning home.
Rarely does a full service Italian restaurant put such an emphasis on perfect pizza. Chef Alon first mixed the pizza starter dough in 2008, more than a year before the restaurant opened. Like a fine wine, the dough has improved with each passing year. Often times we forget that pizza is just as much about the crust as the toppings and sauce, but the fresh, bubbly pies pulled from the oven at Domenica might be the best bread in the city. As for toppings, my favorite is the Bolzano, with chunks of roasted pork, some fatty, some lean, and fennel, bacon, and sweet onions. Basil pesto with goat cheese and heirloom tomatoes is a close second.
|Stracci with oxtails and fried chicken livers.|
As much as I love Domenica and TFS loves Alon Shaya, I make no representation that there is not room for improvement. Lunch service has always been slow, although speed has picked up over the last few months. Still, I've found that dining at the bar is your only chance at keeping the lunch hour to under 60 minutes. And I always feel that the prices in the anti-pasti section are about 15% too high. $18 for a head of roasted cauliflower? The same price for a portion of burrata? $14 for three fried squash blossoms?
But despite what can be a long lunch wait, I am still quick to jump at the opportunity for lunch at Domenica for a porchetta panino built upon a foundation of the freshly baked focaccia and filled with warm juicy, thick slices of roasted pork, barely melting provolone, rapini for greenery, and garlic mayo. The roasted cauliflower, toasty golden brown with a knife protruding out from the top like the sword in the stone, usually finds a place at our table along with a plate of whipped goat feta sprinkled with chiles. And the fried squash blossoms are still better than their counterparts at Mario Batali's Otto Enoteca.
Is it any wonder why I love this place?
Domenica - Birdie/Eagle
123 Baronne Street
Open Daily 11am - 11pm