It’s not every Tuesday evening that New Yorkers can slow their busy schedules and sit down with a new friend for some traditional Italian food and interesting cocktails, but if you are blessed with the time and resources, you might find yourself in the same situation as I did last evening with fellow Examiner Howard Portnoy. Howard writes the NY Restaurant column on Examiner and took over ordering the food at Grotta Azzurra, a century old restaurant at the corner of Mulberry and Broome in the heart of Little Italy.
Overflowing plates filled with Italian delicacies like spiedino and Contadina were enough to feed an army. The exorbitant amount of food called for some great cocktail pairings, and their menu accommodates all types, from the casual imbiber who likes a sweeter taste to the hard core drinker who doesn’t like their spirit sugarcoated.
For the aforementioned sweet-tooth, the Tiramisu cocktail is the way to go. Combining Vodka, Kahlua, Crème de Cacao and heavy cream produced a sweet smelling, beautiful presentation that has a defined layered look. This cocktail is delicious at dessert time and is refreshing with a light finish. The creamy frothy mixture on top was a real favorite and made for a delightful cocktail.
A second crowd-pleaser was the Espresso Martini, made with Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua, Liquor 43, a double shot of espresso and Crème de Cacao. Another great presentation, this special martini will kick start your evening and can be enjoyed with appetizers or dessert. The cocktail smells of espresso, but tastes delicious on the palate. Even for those who aren’t a fan of coffee flavors, the Espresso Martini was not too overwhelming.
Lastly, we sampled the Grotta Azzurra, the restaurant’s signature cocktail. This blue concoction is created with Vodka, Blue Curacao, Pineapple and Grand Marnier. The color is eye-catching, a bright aqua that matches the name (Howard reminds us that the restaurant’s translation is “Blue Grotto”). A red maraschino cherry floats on the bottom of the cocktail. The smell is very strong on the nose with a taste to match! This cocktail is ill-advised for any drinker who needs a more delicate taste. In other words, a cocktail made for your favorite Grappa drinker (And for those Grappa drinkers, they do have a selection of Grappas on the menu).
All in all, the cocktail menu matches any dinner party, whether your table has two or twenty, there is a cocktail on it for everyone. At $11 a drink, our best advice is to try a few for the table and pick your favorite. And for dessert, don’t forget the Espresso Martini and Tiramisu! Cheers!
For more information:
Howard Portnoy’s NY Restaurant Reviews, and Howard’s review of Grotta Azzurra
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