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Ai Fiori, NYC



Ai Fiori

Chef: Michael White
Cuisine: Italian
Neighborhood: Midtown
Price: Appetizers $20-25, Entrées $30-50
Phone: 212-613-8660
Address: 400 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10018
Hours:
Breakfast Mon-Fri 7am-10:30am, Sat-Sun 8am-10:30am
Lunch Mon-Sun 11:45am-2:30pm
Dinner Mon-Thurs 5:30pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-9:30pm

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a Michael White restaurant. I had tried Marea and absolutely loved the seafood there, had visited Alta at Time Warner Center and Convivio (although technically not a Michael White venue anymore) and enjoyed the Italian fare at both restaurants.  And recently, I finally got a chance to eat at Ai Fiori and Osteria Morini, White’s two newest New York City restaurants and I’m asking why I didn’t go there sooner.

Located in the heart of corporate Midtown at the Setai Fifth Avenue, Ai Fiori’s atmosphere is surprisingly refreshing and not stuffy. Surely, there are plenty of business travelers dining there on a regular basis, plus a few suit-clad professionals enjoying a post-work drink. But as the name suggests, Ai Fiori (which translates to “Among the Flowers”) evokes a comfortable, soothing atmosphere; one where patrons can relax, enjoy a well-prepared meal and feel as if they are too among the flowers.

The entrance to the restaurant follows a circular staircase and once you walk in, you are greeted by the bar. I ordered a Primavera Pressé, which is a Zubrowka (bison grass vodka) based cocktail. It was herbal, not too fruity, and I loved the fact that the bar was stocked on Zubrowka. The dining room is huge and split into several sections. The interior decor tones are earthy greens and browns, not too cold and formal. The best part of course is the food. The cuisine is a mélange of Italian and French.  The dishes were inventive and their presentation luxurious. My favorites were probably the Uovo and the Risotto, although it is really difficult to choose favorites from Ai Fiori’s menu.

Bread – a mini olive baguette never hurt anyone

Granchio – blue crab, avocado, grapefruit, tarragon, crispy farinata
Loved the crab and soft, smooth avocado combo

Ricciola – amber jack tartare, cara cara oranges, cucumber, uova di trota
Lots of moving parts, but the cool cucumber complemented the amberjack and the roe added a nice salty kick at the end

Uovo- slow poached egg, lobster knuckles, crispy veal sweetbreads, nuage layon
I know the picture doesn’t show much, but this dish was like eating a little cloud of savory poached egg punctuated with the crispy sweetbreads and lobster knuckles. Kind of reminiscent of the similarly indulgent poached egg dish at Eleven Madison Park.

Trofie Nero  – ligurian crustacean ragoût, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica
Typically not huge into pastas, but this was very well done

Risotto – riso acquarello, lobster, bone marrow, saffron, shellfish jus
Lobster and bone marrow in one. Wow. Looooved this risotto, wish I could make this at home.

Ippoglosso – line caught atlantic halibut, morels, asparagus, hollandaise, foie gras
Halibut is my favorite fish and I’ve wanted to try morels since I read about them in various food and cook books. But, as they cost $40/lb at Whole Foods Market, I didn’t feel audacious enough to spend money on them before at least tasting them. I love the honeycomb texture and strong woodsy flavor. I now know I can buy just a little bit to enhance a dish and not break the bank. But back to this dish — loved it. Juicy fish went so well with all of the accoutrements.

Agnello – rack of lamb en crepinette, swiss chard crochetta, sariette
The carnivore in me is drooling as I look at this photo. Lamb chop stuffed with lamb and wrapped in fat. And a generous serving at that. Very nicely paired with the bitter Swiss chard

Desserts – Chocolate Budino, Torta di Olio, Tartaletta
I was so full by the end of dinner, the desserts were not as memorable to me personally. But they were beautiful and undoubtedly tasted amazing


Mignardises

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Comments
One Response to “Ai Fiori, NYC”
  1. Convivio closed! Extra sad for me, since it was right outside my front door.

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