NYC: Ai Fiori

Monday, October 29, 2012

This blog post has been LONG overdue. Remember back in Winter 2010 when I visited NYC and met Chef Tony? He cooked me and a few friends a wonderful three course meal, including his amazing brioche dessert. Well, a lot has changed since 2010 - I moved to NY and therefore I've been able to eat Tony's cooking by visiting him at work - a lot.


For the past two years, Tony has been working at Ai Fiori, a Michael White restaurant, and was recently promoted to be the Pastry Sous Chef! Congrats again, Tony!!! So this blog post is actually a collection of some dishes I've tried at Ai Fiori over 3-4 meals over the span of the year.

Ai Fiori is located inside the Setai Fifth Avenue Hotel, I love walking up the spiral staircase and being welcomed by their fully stocked bar behind the all glass entrance. You can sit either in the lounge or in the formal dining room. I've actually never had drinks at the lounge, but I love it's chic decor.


Amuse-bouche and Per Cominciare

You can order from the menu a la carte, which I usually do, or you can do a 4-course prix fixe or a 7-course chef's tasting. Their menu seems to change every few months but the main ingredient usually stays the same. For starters, I usually go for the seafood. I've really enjoyed their lobster and softshell crab dishes. I highly recommend their sweetbread too.

Bottom Right: Burrata and Caviar - a little bite of heaven

Foie Gras Torchon and Bose Pear served with Toasted Brioche 

Fluke Crudo with Caviar, Lobster, Soft Shell Crab and Heirloom Tomato Salad - all are amazing

Pastas

Michael White is known for his Italian cuisine and at Ai Fiori, they are known for their homemade pastas. The Trofie Nero,  a seafood (mainly crustaceans) ragout with squid ink pasta, is THE BEST DISH EVER. I would eat this every day if I could. This is the one dish that I always look forward to, and after looking at this picture, I feel like I need to go back again soon to have it.

RECOMMENDED: Trofie Nero - a seafood ragout with squid ink pasta

Raviolo - with mushrooms

Other awesome pasta dishes to note is the Agnolotti, which is a little veal stuffed pasta which is served with veal jus. Blue Crab spaghetti is also a winner for me, the spaghetti is cooked perfectly al dente, and the chili flakes gives it just the right amount of spice for me.

Agnolotti - Braised Veal, Charred Corn, and Veal Jus

Pesce and Carne

Besides the pastas, I've found that the seafood at Ai Fiori are all very solid. One of my favorites was a branzino dish that served fish with a stew of vegetables and a stuff calamari shell. Another memorable dish was the duck and foie gras dish. The duck is perfectly cooked and who doesn't like seared foie? 

Branzino - Sea bass, in zimino (with vegetables), and Stuffed calamari

Long Island Duck and Foie Gras

Pork Loin, Pork Belly, Gnocchi and Fennel

Dolci

And finally, the most important part of our meal at Ai Fiori - the desserts! Every time I visit, Tony goes above and beyond and hooks us up with all of their newest desserts. Honestly, I'm not normally a dessert person, but all of these desserts are awesome. The winners for me is always the olive oil cake, panna cottas, chocolate mousse and of course, caramelized brioche.

Throwback to Tony's Caramelized Brioche dessert from our home made meal!

Amazing desserts, olive cakes, frozen margarita 




At the end of our meal, Tony took us to the kitchen - where the magic happens. As expected from any fine dining establishment, their kitchen is super clean and everything looks organized. It's actually a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but they really make the most use of their space. I loved how organized they are in the labeled spices in the tupperware!

Getting a tour of the back of the house

Chef Tony and the girls!

A meal at Ai Fiori never disappoints, so I going and knowing that I'm going to leave a happy camper. So the next time you're feeling like great italian food, head to Ai Fiori for a meal you won't forget. Just be sure to make a reservation at least two weeks in advanced if you need a time that's not too early or too late.

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Ai Fiori | Yelp

Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
Ai Fiori
* Overall
★★★☆ ☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Midtown West / Italian
* Street Address
400 5th Ave. 2nd Level, New York, NY 10018
* Phone
(212) 613-8660

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