Emilio’s Ballato is one of the great Italian restaurants in New York City. They don’t take reservations so you usually have to work some magic to get in the door (which interestingly enough has tons of locks on it). And that’s what adds to its mystique. The inside of Emilio’s also has a very cool vibe – chandeliers, whimsical art, and pictures of celebrities line the walls. Dimly lit with candles on every table, you might accidentally brush elbows with Justin Bieber or a Victoria’s Secret model on any given night.
When I arrived at Emilio’s to meet Dave for dinner, I was instantly greeted by Mr. Ballato himself who was sitting at his own table next to the entrance. He is definitely part of the ambiance when you enjoy a meal here whether inside or out. They had about 5-6 tables under a tent outside directly on Houston Street. We were able to be seated right away which is definitely an anomaly. On a normal summer night, it would have been impossible to get in.
We started the night with a bottle of Chianti and warm focaccia bread. We ordered the caprese and baked clams as the appetizers. The authentic buffalo mozzarella was served in the center of fresh tomatoes and olives. It nailed it with both its taste and texture. The baked clams were coated with crispy bread crumbs and chunks of garlic swimming in a savory sauce. The focaccia dipped in the clam sauce is a MUST!
We knew we wanted veal parm as the main course and of course had to order a few homemade pasta dishes to compliment it. We decided on the spicy arrabiata, meat ravioli, and tagliatelle in meat sauce. The veal parm came out first. It was gigantic and seriously does not disappoint. The parm is served to you on the bone doused in red sauce and bubbling mozzarella cheese.
The spicy penne was fiery – definitely seasoned with a generous amount of red pepper. There were also five colossal raviolis stuffed with meat in a brown butter sauce that we thoroughly enjoyed. The tagliattelle was tossed in a memorable meat sauce. At the end of the night, we decided to skip dessert and instead ordered another bottle of red. Good energy, amazing food, and phenomenal wine – what more could you need right now?
Tune in to @chefanthony_ballatosnyc and @emiliovitolo on instagram to see behind the scenes and what makes this such an Italian staple!