Tiella | 1109 1st Ave. (bet. 60th & 61st Sts.) | 212.588.0100 | www.tiellanyc.com

MANY OF US FOOD BLOGGERS are so busy with our own eating and dining schedules that we afford ourselves scant opportunities to visit the places our peers recommend. Recently, my new friend and fellow food blogger, DMANBURGER, has been writing about the one-week old opening of a pretty, cozy, and intimate little Italian restaurant called Tiella. (I was surprised to see such enthusiasm for an Italian place from DMANBURGER—real name, Darren—who usually writes solely on hamburgers.)

But I trust Darren's opinion, and as I am trying to follow up on the recommendations of my peers, I figured I'd treat myself to a nice lunch—party of one—zipping down 2nd Avenue on the M15 bus and winding in front of Tiella, one block over on 1st, and grabbing a window-side table.

I was there for one of their tiellas (Neopolitan pizzas baked in—and named for—a cast iron pan), my order topped with San Daniele prosciutto and foie gras. while I waited, I was treated to some excellent fresh baked bread served with some richly aromatic, delicious, herbed olive oil.

My tiella showed up looking and smelling wonderful, and they were excellently executed. A smear of foie gras, being deep with flavor, does its usual, mouth-watering wonders for the palette, with its minimal use not playing nicely with the prosciutto—San Daniele being "daintier" than most—and both rewarding the light yet firm crust and the earthy, grounding melted mozzarella.

The space is perfect for more human coupling as well; it is one of those neither too hip nor too hyped enclaves, far more conducive to flirtatious whispering, coy hand-holding, or heart-racing eye-gazing. It's a perfect spot for that important second or third date, or that rare "couple's night out" without the kids.

The space is elegant, attractive, and sexy, without the pomp, much like the food. The rest of the menu, boasting other oven-baked dishes (such as a variety of house-made pastas or strong secondis of branzino, veal scallopini or rack of lamb), and ornate wines.

And the dishes are properly proportioned for an intimate dinner, leaving any diner just enough room for one of their excellent desserts, like this delice alla limone which showed up unexpectedly as I had already paid and was leaving (I don't like to get free food, especially during a first time visit; I of course want to maintain the integrity of objectivity in my write-ups). By the time the very personable Mario, one of the owners, kindly brought out of the kitchen, I couldn't really turn it away, could I?

This mini "bomb" of citrus was in itself a small surprise; it was a lot lighter in taste and texture than it appeared. Airy sponge cake, sandwiching a pudding-light crema surrounded in a meringue-like covering, a spoonful dissipated into a delicious cloud of lemony heaven under the heat of my tongue.

And Tiella is a delicious cloud of a restaurant. A restaurant that deserves a second and third date.

Bun Apple Tea!


Tiella on Urbanspoon

Tiella | 1109 1st Ave. (bet. 60th & 61st Sts.) | 212.588.0100 | www.tiellanyc.com