Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Traditional Italian on the Upper West Side
Restaurant Name: Celeste
Location: New York City
Celeste is a good find on New York City's Upper West side. It is traditional Italian fare similar to what you might be served in a trattoria in Italy - handmade, hearty, simple pastas and soups. Nothing fancy, but the food is very honest. The potato gnocchi with tomato sauce are pillowy, thick, and piquant with garlic (they lingered, I'll tell you that). The minestrone soup is one of the simplest I've ever had - potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and a lovely salty broth.
Celeste also serves pizzas with an array of tasty sounding options. My husband went in for the mushroom, artichoke, proscuitto, and cheese pizza. It sounded great but was actually prepared in four quarters - one with each of the ingredients piled up separately. The sum of those parts would have been so much better together than they were on their own. Alas.
Dessert was good. A New York style cheesecake, but tricked out for fall (pumpkin) and a very passable Tiramisu (heavy on the coffee flavor). We found out later that the owner makes his own cheeses in house - wish we'd known that because we might have ordered the cheese plate. Next time, I guess.
Celeste is a little closet of a place - loud, warm, and crowded. The service was attentive and good-natured. The owner runs the front of the house and loves to chat. Our biggest complaint was our table by the door. Every time anyone came in or out we got a blast of the brisk NYC fall wind. But, the prices are great. Three of us ate and drank till we felt sick for $120 (including tip).
The perfect restaurant well-worth the 45 minute journey from Brooklyn? Maybe not. But, a great place for warmth and restoration in the fall and winter if you're already on the Upper West Side? Definitely.