by Nicole M.
I live on the Upper East Side and often head downtown for dinner on Friday or Saturday nights. With the recent addition of Tiella, a Neapolitan restaurant housed in a narrow sliver on 60th and 1st, I have a reason to stay uptown. Tiella uses the city’s smallest wood-burning oven to create authentic cast iron cooking that proves Neapolitan cuisine is so much more than great pizza.
Italians know how to live. They eat their food slowly with pleasure and meals are always accompanied by a glass of wine. At Tiella, you’ll want to do as the Italians and savor every bite. The food is molto bene.
My guest and I started the night off right with a glass of the bubbly Prosecco Vazzlo. Mario Coppola, co-owner and front-of-the-house authority, guided us through a selection of the best dishes on the menu. First was the Stracciatella E Tartufo, a pizza-like creation made in the namesake Tiella cast iron pan. Salty prosciutto, creamy cheese and fragrant truffles top this delicious dish that is made with no less than four ingredients sourced directly from different regions in Italy. Umbria, Puglia, Parma…we were literally tasting all the goodness that the country has to offer in one bite. My guest dug into her piece, closed her eyes and proclaimed, “Mmmm, I want to go back to Italy.”
Next was a Spinach Flan with a béchamel and gorgonzola base. Green in color and shaped like a triangle, the dish is a little weird to look at but a pleasure to eat. The brick oven cooked scallops were slightly sweet and perfectly cooked with a golden crust of Pecorino cheese from Umbria.
No visit to an Italian restaurant is complete without pasta and luckily Tiella makes their pasta in-house. If you like your pasta al dente, try the Nera, made with black ink fettuccine, scallops and chanterelle mushrooms. The dish has a definite bite. For I Secondi (the main course), try the rack of lamb, which is coated with a savory herb crust and cooked in a 750-degree oven, making it crispy on the outside and incredibly moist inside.
Italians tend to savor their food without guilt. At Tiella, the desserts are light enough that you can enjoy them without calculating how many blocks you’ll have to walk home to burn them off. The soft sponge cake laced with limoncello is light and airy with a melt in your mouth texture. The Mixed Berry Gelato is creamy with intense berry flavor in each bite. It’s sorbet on overdrive.
Tiella is located at 1109 1st avenue between 60th and 61st Streets and is open for dinner daily from 5-11 PM and lunch on Monday-Saturday from 12-3 PM. The cozy setting, brick walls and soft lighting make the restaurant perfect for date night.