In Manhattan, the East 40s is not an area known to have great restaurants and for those coming in and out of Grand Central Station, there are not many dining options within a few blocks of Metro North. Recently I had the pleasure of dining at Davio's NYC, 447 Lexington Avenue, between 44th and 45th Streets. The restaurant is owned by Steve DiFillippo who started with the original Davio's in Boston back in 1985 and has now expanded to 7 locations. Let me just say before going any further that I know Steve from back in high school in Lynnfield, Massachusetts when he was the star football player and I was a cheerleader! It is possible that I could still be a slightly biased cheerleader here, but there's no denying his successes as a restauranteur and the many accolades all of his restaurants have received.
Davio's NYC is a high-end steakhouse with an Italian accent. Bring a big appetite and start off with the excellent burrata served with asparagus, fava beans and tomatoes with a light, lemony green pea pesto. Move on to the tender, lightly charred octopus with a pistachio puree and excellent buttery new potatoes. Or, delight yourself with one of the house-made pastas such as the veal agnolotti in a black summer truffle sauce.
Then, for the star of the show, choose one of the excellent steaks they are known for. Favorites include the 8 or 10 ounce filet mignons and the prime ribeye steaks, either the natural aged 16 ounce or the long bone 28 ounce. When I told a friend I would soon be dining at Davio's, he told me that the ribeyes here are "to die for". He was right! The steak was perfectly cooked and very juicy with just the right amount of fat to give it additional flavor. You can also order from a great selection of steak sauces. They aren't really needed since the steak is so well cooked, but they are a nice option if you want to add additional flavors to the overall dish. To go with the meat, don't miss the brussels sprouts with slivered almonds which were cooked perfectly and had a delicate sweetness to them. Another favorite was the side salad of arugula and radicchio which was dressed with a beautifully bright and vibrant vinaigrette. The battered, crispy onion rings were very tasty, but a little on the heavy side. There are also plenty of seafood selections on the menu for the non-meat eaters. The service here is exceptional with a very attentive, friendly, knowledgeable waitstaff who give great recommendations on what to order.
The cocktail list is "nothing short of great" (my friend again!) and the wine list is quite varied with both new world and old world choices. We loved our medium-full bodied red wine, a 2013 Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato from Bolgheri in Tuscany ($80). A well-balanced blend of cabernet, merlot and syrah, It had a lot of dark red fruit, licorice and herbal qualities coming through on both the nose and the palate.
At the end of the meal, do not miss trying some items on the dessert cart even if you are completely stuffed. The handsome waiters in their white jackets come by with a dessert cart full of cakes, tarts, custards and after dinner drinks. My favorite dessert was the creme brulee which had a perfectly cooked, crunchy caramelized sugar topping and a very smooth and creamy custard underneath. I must say that this is one of the best creme brulees in all of NYC! The fruity scented Poli Torcolato grappa was the perfect digestif to accompany dessert and helped to digest this wonderful, satisfying meal. One more word of advice, if you do catch a train after dinner, I suggest setting your alarm so you don't fall into a deep, contented, after-dinner slumber and miss your stop!