Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I almost got lost on my way to Naima on 27th and 10th Ave. for a tasting. I forgot there was a huge parcel of land that ate up part of 27th street starting at 8th Ave., and didn't let 27th return until 10th Ave.

Located a block away from the nightspot Marquee and tucked away in an industrial section of town. Melanie Weitzner, explained that the area with its industrial space is home to quite a few galleries and other artistic ventures.

Naima has a cocktail list as well that I wanted to give a spin. The first cocktail was the restaurant's signature Naima, made with red grapefruit vodka, maraschino, lime juice and cranberry juice. I thought there was a blush of liqueur at the bottom of the glass, but realized it was actually a maraschino cherry.

Melanie told me how the two owners Alessandro Passante and Roberto Guotto were childhood friends from back home on the island of Capri.

"Friends from back home" seemed to be the theme of the evening. I talked to Naima's bartender Bratislava. He told me that besides working at Naima he was also working at Employees Only.

"Oh? Do you know Dushan?" I asked, referring to Dushan Zaric of Employee's Only, who I had met a while back.

Bratislava said that in fact he was friends with Dushan from back in the day when they were both in Serbia. They both worked at a bar in Belgrade called Absinthe, which was opened by a man who first organized the first bartending school in Belgrade. Bratislava also said that they served real absinthe there for a while before it was made illegal.

This lead to a discussion about absinthe and where it came from, who still makes it or if anybody can recreate the original between Bratislava, Alessandro and myself.

I also ordered the Markana, made with cachaca, Aperol, pineapple juice and lime juice. Alessandro said it was a cocktail that people either really enjoyed or didn't because of the Aperol, but it was something that's a little bit different.

And last but not least, I got a sneak peak of a cocktail that's being worked on for the new cocktail list. Alessandro said it's still unnamed, but unofficially it's called the Amore Mio. It's made with gin, Prosecco and strawberries cooked with sugar and vanilla.

For the curious, the food I had:

Pear con prosciutto, gorgonzola e noci
Soft Cold Pear stuffed with gorgonzola, walnuts wrapped with prosciutto

Cestino di parmigiano ripieno di mozzarella di bufala
Bufala mozzarella, arugula, tomatoes & olive oil in a parmesan shaped basket

Ravioli Capresi
Homemade ravioli filled with caciotta cheese and marjoram in light tomato sauce

Farfalle con zucca, gamberetti e rucola
Bow tie pasta with butternut squash, shrimp and arugula

Grigliata di polipo, radicchio trevigiano e finocchi
Grilled mix of octopus, trevisan raddichio and fennel

Carre' d'agnello con pure' di patate e broccoli al vapore
Grilled lamb chops served with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli

Strawberry Pannacotta

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