Wed Mar 19 2008
Photograph: Talia Simhi
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Andy D’Amico, the chef behind the Upper West Side French eatery Nice Matin, continues his homage to the Riviera with the smaller, more casual Nizza. Here, D’Amico explores the interplay of French and Italian influences along the Mediterranean (Nizza is what Italians call the city “Nice”). The retro-mod interior includes leather chairs in Vespa orange and rows of bottles, creating a sleek effect. The large menu covers so much ground—soups, salads, pizza, panini, pasta and entrées—that assembling a cohesive meal can be a challenge. Instead of going the starter-to-main route, you might want to share four or five dishes instead. Begin with the deftly executed socca, a thick chickpea crêpe flavored with sage leaves—a specialty of Nice that’s difficult to find in New York. The equally winning miniature pizzas, meanwhile, have crusts so delicate they seem more French than Italian (one topped with pancetta, Taleggio and caramelized onions recalls a tarte flambé). On the pasta front, handmade pansotti triangles filled with herbs and walnuts are another well-priced triumph. So is a flatiron steak topped with a piquant Italian version of chimichurri. This welcome addition to Hell’s Kitchen’s crowded restaurant arena is ideal for diners in a pretheater rush to pop in for pizza, and then come back post-show for dessert. We were particularly fond of the chocolate-orange tart, with caramelized orange slices baked onto a buttery, melted-chocolate-topped crust.