I couldn’t help but be impressed when I entered Il Punto Ristorante at 6:30 p.m. on a recent Thursday night. Almost all the tables were taken! In this tough economy most of the “local” restaurants are rarely full weekdays.
I had high expectations, since the restaurant’s owner also owns the excellent Mango in downtown Flushing, where I ate recently.
Il Punto is at the cusp of the theatre district, a short distance from Madison Square Garden and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. But interestingly, this once commercial West Side area is becoming gentrified with many high-end residential towers being built. The night we were there it seemed to be filled with “locals.”
The 9th Avenue restaurant has a main area and two side rooms for parties or the overflow of the main room. That night two of the three were filled!
They offer a pre- and post-theatre menu for $30 that is a real bargain. But we began our meal with drinks and wine. There is a large selection of American and Italian wines by the glass or bottle, all moderately priced.
Our first courses came from the main menu and I must say each one was more delicious than the next. As a group of five, we sampled each other’s choices and I was impressed with every dish, but mine was a picture-perfect salad stuzzichino built on layers of thin slices of shaved Parmigiano cheese, artichoke hearts, arugula, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers and mushrooms.
The adventurous executive chef – the restaurant has two, Michele Orsino and Mauro Andrade – created a unique menu featuring dishes of outstanding grilled octopus and a stuffed artichoke heart different in a tangy tomato sauce. I was amazed by the uniqueness of Timballo, which has layers of wide ribbons of pasta, béchamel, meat ragu and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I was going to share it but I must admit I couldn’t resist having the whole dish to myself. Stu was impressed with his choice of beef rollatini, flavored with garlic, Parmigiano, and parlsey cooked in a tomato sauce, served with a homemade Garganelli pasta. All the pasta is homemade.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and here, each one is hand-made by their pastry chef and must not be missed. I loved the poached pear with Barolo red wine, but the Napoleone Al Cioccolato, a puff pastry filled with chocolate whipped cream was outrageous. There are even homemade ice creams and sorbets. So for a superb unique, Italian meal try Il Punto, you’ll love it!
Il Punto Ristorante
507-509 9th Avenue
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday 11:30 a.m. to midnight
Saturday noon to midnight
Sunday 1 to 11 p.m.
Special party packages available