On my third night in New York City, after drinks at Red58, I went with two of my best friends for dinner in their neighborhood - the Upper West Side.
They took me to their favorite Italian place called Regional.
Regional is located at 98th Street and Broadway. As soon as we set foot inside I fell in love with the decor. The bar has hundreds of bottles of wine along the back wall and to the right of the bar is a giant chalkboard with the night's specials.
To start we ordered two appetizers, the first (my choice) was fried zucchini. The batter on these had an onion ring-like texture. I prefer the bread crumb/Panko texture on this type of dish, but it was still tasty.
For dinner, one of my friends ordered the grilled eggplant with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. In her words, "Because the eggplant is grilled, not breaded, you don't feel as full as you would from an eggplant parm, which is really nice. You still get all those flavors, but without the food coma."
My other friend ordered the smoked mozzarella cheese which was topped with zucchini and sun dried tomatoes. I tasted the mozzarella and the smoky flavor was way too much for me. I like my cheese to taste creamy, not smoky. However, the person who ordered it loved it.
I ordered the traditional Italian pasta dish spaghetti cacio e pepe. This dish, which I first tasted at Eataly over the summer (read my review here), is simple in flavor but incredible in taste. Prepared authentically, the dish is nothing more than spaghetti, pecorino cheese and black pepper. Regional's version of this Italian classic was outstanding!
If you visit Regional, the spaghetti cacio e pepe is the one thing you must order. The pasta is fresh, the cheese gives the dish a rich, creamy flavor and the black pepper adds a kick. In a word - amazing.
Overall, our experience at Regional was a wonderful one. The restaurant was beautiful, the food came out quickly and that pasta dish! I could eat that every night!
Do you have a favorite Italian restaurant in New York City? Leave the name in the comments section and I'll be sure to add it to my list!