A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Tuesday, November 6

Matilda

This is a restaurant you really want to root for.

The Tuscan/Mexican fusion cuisine concept appears to be heartfelt, rather than some sort of (ill-conceived) marketing scheme: the place is owned and operated by a one-of-each married couple. A lot of thought went into the design—the (sadly, scripty) typographic wall decor, the odd chandelier, the increasingly common communal two-sided bar—and includes something I've never seen before, a little slot in the table into which slides the dessert menu. Cute. The wife half of the team, Maristella Innocenti, was a frequent, smiling visitor to my table, and couldn't have been more pleasant. The place itself is named after their 3-year-old daughter.

So you'll definitely sit down to your meal really wanting to like the brand-new Matilda... but right now (or, at least, a week ago Saturday), the food is not there yet.

Things started off on a good note, with a basket of chewy bread and—fusion alert!—olive oil infused with habanero. And my pasta, Fusilli Con Chayotes, mostly worked, the addition of grilled zucchini flowers bringing some welcome earthiness to a dish perhaps too reliant on the more subtle, watery Mexican squash.

My Secondi/Platos Fuertes, however, worked not at all, but it was much more a problem of execution rather than conception which, presumably, the kitchen will address, given time. I ordered the Maiale Sulla Luna, which was described as pork tenderloin strewn with pineapple and habanero, served with a potato and cilantro pie. What I got was remarkably tasteless meat, flavorless fruit, and two slabs of something that reminded me of a terribly overcooked, dried out baked idaho, pressed flat. I couldn't even bring myself to eat much of this.

Dessert, too, was good news/bad news. All Matilda is serving now is homemade gelati and sorbet: the Mexican Chocolate was excellent, with a perfect, creamy texture and deep notes of cocoa, cinnamon and chilis; the Orange Panna Cotta was pretty terrible, all crumbly and bland. As Maristella herself told me after seeing my unfinished bowl of ice cream (!), "we're still working some things out."

Matilda is located on 11th Street, just west of Avenue C. On Saturday night at around 8:30 the place was pretty packed (with, in this case, Halloween-party goers, many in costume), though I did get seated right away at a table next to the window. As of then (October 27), it was cash only.

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2 Comments:

Blogger The Gluttoness said...

spoke with the owner and he was raving about their fish tacos--next time!

3:25 PM, November 07, 2007

 
Anonymous bianca said...

I went to Matilda last weekend, not expecting anything spectacular since the resturant has been open only 2 months now. However i was pleasently surprised by the delisious food and good service. i started off with the most amazing nachos with truffles! and then had the ox-tail ragu which came highly recomended by our waitress. the place is charming...i'll be back.

12:42 PM, December 03, 2007

 

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