The folks at Felice 83 Ristorante & Wine Bar hosted an intimate dinner for a few food bloggers. It was amazing! Right in the heart of Upper East Side was a little piece of Tuscany. Felice 83 is one of a handful of restaurants owned by Jacopo Giustiniani, an Italian Native turned New Yorker, here in New York City. He opened all the restaurants with Chef Simone Parisotto, originally from Milan. With this duo, I can tell you, the experience at Felice 83 was nothing short of amazing. Step into Felice 83, and step into Tuscany with its delicious wine, flavorful food, warm services, and cozy ambiance. Felice 83 has an expansive dining room, but remains cozy with its warm décor and candlelight. It features limited outdoor seating, but I recommend the warm and cozy dining room. It’s perfect for a date or a dinner out with good friends. This is one of those places where it’s all about good food, great wine, and even better company.
I had the fortune to dine here in the company of a small group of food bloggers, and we had a fantastic night. We all loved the food. But before I dive into the fine Italian food, let’s speak for a second about the wine. Jacopo Giustiniani’s family owns an estate in Tuscan countryside for over 200 years. They produce about 80,000 cases each year, and the wines are sold in some fine wine shops and restaurants here in the City. This of course means Felice 83 would serve wines from the family estate. But that’s not all! The wine list at Felice 83 boasts over 100 wines! Owner Jacopo curates the entire wine lists. For the most part, all the wines are from small producers. The wine list includes a variety of organic, sustainable and biodynamic wines. I will tell you, I still don’t really know what biodynamic wines are (it sounds too spiritual for my taste). But I did learn all about organic and sustainable wines. Apparently, in Italy, wines need to be sustainable for three years before they can be declared as organic. This is to ensure that there are no chemicals, etc., still remain in the soil. At Felice restaurants, the wines from the family estate are served under the Felice label. Around the City, the wines are available under the Sebastiano label. When you talk with Jacopo, you can feel his passion and love for the wines.
Now, onto the food. The menu was incredible. I tasted that same unmistakable passion in the food, prepared by Chef Parisotto. I shall go course by course.
Burrata Pugliese: burrata cheese with heirloom tomatoes and baby arugula – This was a perfect summer starter. Light and refreshing. It’s one of those dishes that when you have good ingredients, just let those ingredients shine. Here, those ingredients are the heirloom tomatoes and the burrata cheese. It’s not easy finding that perfect burrata cheese that has the thin skin.
Arancini: saffron rice balls lightly breaded filled with veal ragout, eggplant and mozzarella – This is a twist on the classic rice ball with veal and eggplant. The tangy Italian tartar sauce brightens up what would otherwise be a somewhat heavy appetizer. But it is delicious – a perfect complement to the wines. Very good finger food and easy to share with good friends.
Coccoli Crescenza E Crudo: 18 month-aged San Daniele prosciutto served with crescenza cheese – Okay – this is it! If you only order one appetizer at Felice 83, order this. The prosciutto is perfectly aged and salty. The creamy crescenza cheese cut that salt. All on top of home-made fried dough that resembles fried wanton wrapper. The combination of creamy, salty, and crunchy is incredible. Highly recommended.
Minestrone Estivo: Summer vegetable minestrone soup – This 100% vegan soup was so unbelievably decadent. The flavor was so complex and layered that it was hard to believe that it was vegan. The creaminess came from chickpea. The soup was finished with a touch of olive oil that gave it a lot of flavor and richness.
Linguine Con Vongole: linguine with clams, garlic, parsley, julienned zucchini, basil and cherry tomatoes in a white wine reduction – This was my pasta pick of the night, but I was in the minority. But truth be told, I’m partial to the noodly types. Linguine is a noodly type of pasta, so it automatically won some point. Then, the sauce with all that seafood just put it over the top. I love seafood. So, seafood combined with noodles – win.
Orecchiette al Sugo: shredded pork spare rib ragu and pecorino cheese – This was the table’s pick on pasta. The perfectly cooked al dente orecchiette with the tomatoes-based spare rib ragout won over all the food bloggers at the table. This was probably the richer of the two pasta dishes. Honestly, at Felice 83, they know Italian and they know how to make good pasta. You can’t really go wrong.
Veal Chop: sautéed veal chop served with red wine reduction, spinach salad and roasted potatoes – OMG! The veal chop was amazing! It was probably a good 1.5-2 inches thick. It was so tender. The spinach salad was a great complement to this meaty dish.
Costata (for two): 35 oz. Creekstone Farms, dry-aged, New York bone-in strip
Cacciucco – this off the menu special was delish! This is a classic Italian fish stew native to the western coastal towns of Tuscany. It is a tomatoes based stew with shrimp, squid, clams, and branzino. The fish was perfectly grilled so it was flaky and tender, and of course, it tasted sweet and buttery typical of this fish. Okay, as it may be apparent, I love seafood. So, it may be obvious that I loved this dish! So, if you see this on the menu – order it! Oh, the house made bread that’s baked fresh daily is perfect for soaping up the sauce!served with herb roasted potatoes – Okay, this is not for the faint of hearts. This is a lot of meat. Fresh from the farms in Wichita Falls, both owner and chef counts this as one of their favorite dishes. I feel like that’s reason enough to try it for yourself!
Panna Cotta: with white chocolate and strawberry sauce – classic Italian treat
Torta Di Gianduia: chocolate hazelnut cake – if you’re a chocolate fan, you can’t go wrong with this.
Pistacchio: pistachio gelato – so good! The pistachio nutty flavor really came through. Recommended
Lampone: raspberry gelato – very refreshing way to end a summer meal
Straciatella: vanilla with chocolate chips gelato – classic flavor. Yum!
Bottom Line: Everything here was amazing and delicious. Everyone may have their favorites, but everyone agree that there was no bad dish what-so-ever. So, head to Felice 83 and try some authentic Tuscan dishes for yourself. You could pretty much just close your eyes, point your finger at the menu somewhere, order whichever dish your finger landed on, and you’ll have a good meal. Order one of the 100 wines on the wine list, and you’ll have a great meal! Bring some friends, and you’ll have a fantastic time!
- Felice 83
- 1593 1st Ave (at 83rd), New York, NY 10028
- (212) 249-4080
- Lunch Hours: M – F 11.30AM TO 4.30PM
- Brunch Hours: Sat / Sun 11.30AM TO 5PM
- Dinner Hours: M – Su 5PM TO 11PM
- Entree priced around $30
Dishes depicted here in the order described above: