On an almost hidden stretch of East 1st Street sits a spacious, elegant, and laid-back Italian restaurant that seems almost purposefully undisclosed, to keep crowds from rushing in: L'Apicio.
L'Apicio, which gets its name from an Eighteenth Century cookbook, is anything but antequated. Executive Chef Gabe Thompson creates contemporary, seasonal menus that focus on fresh, international ingredients and truly put a unique spin on the expected classics. Beverage Director Joe Campanale, pairs a deep cocktail and wine program with the innovative menu, and a night spent at the bar sipping a martini and twirling noodles around your fork is indeed a night well-spent.
Fresh pasta at L'Apicio is made in-house everyday. Some shapes, like orchiette, are standard on the menu, but vary in preparation based on seasonal ingredients. Cold months featured an orchiette ribollita ragu, a pasta-centric rendition of the traditional Tuscan bread soup. Loops of the thumprint orchiette perfectly function as pasta-baskets for the stewed tomatoes, beans, and greens.
New to the menu is the Taglioni Nero, with creamy uni and crunchy tobiko. The black squid ink pasta is cooked to a toothful al dente, and is twisted with rich sea urchin and topped with a generous heap of tobiko, which truly add a pop to every bite. The Asian-Italian fusion of flavors and textures is truly remarkable: eaten with a fork, not chopsticks (though it could be, if L'Apicio had them on hand), it would be hard to decipher the true origins of the dish, as the ingredients are so perfectly entanged in one another to create a harmonious melange of international cuisine.