This isn't the East Village of your grandmother's anymore! East Village is a hip area of New York with lots of young East Asian tourists who want to strut their stuff and be as urban chic as possible. East Village has some of the best bars and restaurant in New York that are reasonable in price, without the snobbery of Midtown, and with hard working chefs making their mark on the culinary world. Paprika may be the best example of new Italian in East Village. Homeboy and Homegirl eat at Paprika often because the food is created simply and consistently. Our Saturday night at Paprika was no exception.
I started off with carpaccio made with truffle oil, braised lettuce and Parmigiano cheese. This is a simple dish made to perfection. Four of shared this dish because it was so large, and it was only $9 total, or $2.25 per person. The flavor and texture were perfection. The truffle oil added just the right aroma, that I can sit here now and imagine the earthy sensation I had in my nose while I savored each bite. This dish was just excellent.
Matt got the nights special of steak with red wine sauce, mashed potatoes and braccoli rabe. I did not hear hide nor hair from him, so I suspect that he liked his dish.
I had homemade gnocchi with prosciutto, sage and homemade tomato sauce. The gnocchi was pillow and light. The sauce was flavorful and light as well. The prosciutto strips were a delight to have as a textural contrast to the lightness of the gnocchi. The most amazing part of this dish is that the gnocchi made fresh that day is only $10.50. Where I live, there is no real Italian haute cuisine, so there is no fresh gnocchi to be had, unless I make it myself. There is great effort to make gnocchi including preparing the potato, getting the right mix of egg and flour, and not having too much water. There are a lot of things that can go wrong during gnocchi making. I think that this dish is worth more that the list price, but I am not going to tell the owner.
This was such a lovely evening. There were a dozen of us in New York, to welcome back Homeboy and Homegirl. These two spend about 6-9 mo. in New York working, and living a very urban life. They have a small apartment - a walkup to the 5th floor, they have no car, so they walk and take the subway everywhere, and they work hard in the city, like most New Yorkers. Then, Homeboy and Homegirl spend 3-6 mo. in a cabin, on top of a mountain where the population is 50, and not one restaurant. Their cabin has no running water, no electricity, no washing machine, no dishwasher, no TV, and no wi-fi. The cabin has a well, a wood burning stove that serves as a stove, and an outhouse. Nothing goes to waste, and anything that can burn goes into the stove. It was so fun to welcome them back into the most urban city of the USA, and share a meal at their neighborhood restaurant!