Those of you, especially, who know how much I enjoy a glass of wine (or two) will find this factoid interesting: it was at Isabella’s on the Upper West Side that I first ordered a glass of red wine. A merlot, of course (this was the early 90s).
I haven’t had much occasion to go to Isabella’s lately; plus, I sort of thought I’d outgrown it. But we had tickets to see “Into the Woods” at the Delacourte Theater, and it seemed as good a place as any to get a little nourishment before the show. The interior hasn’t changed much at all: it still looks like a cross between a hotel lobby and a fern bar.
I did not order a merlot. They had a lovely rosé from Channing Daughters, which went great with the grilled flatbread, calamari and artichokes and arugula salad, all of which were surprisingly well done. Brava, Isabella’s!
Boo and Catherine became good friends through work, and Greg and I have both written for her in the past. It was so good to finally, finally meet her. We are going to get along famously — already have.
The calamari. Crisp and not at all greasy.
Artichokes alla Romana with Arugula, Parmesan Cheese, Truffle Brown Butter Vinaigrette:
And we liked the first flatbread so much (that one was wild mushrooms with goat cheese and white truffle oil) that we ordered a second: Proscuitto with Fontina Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Baby Arugula
All in all a delicious dinner. Another look at the dining room:
The 411 on Isabella’s: An Upper West Side institution, much beloved. It feels like a cross between a Parisian bistro and a San Francisco hotel lobby, but that somehow works, especially when the big windows are thrown open to the street and the dining room is humming. Creative Italian and Mediterranean starters such as flatbreads and artichokes with arugula give way to easy-to-love mains such as steak frites and hazelnut-baked cod. 359 Columbus Ave at 77th St., 212-724-2100, isabellas.com.