The Dance of an Authentic Italian Restaurant’s Menu
In Italy, food’s inherent promise to the entire table: “L’appetito vien mangiando,” or “the appetite comes while you’re eating.” Imagine plate after plate of honest-to-goodness authentic Italian food that moves effortlessly in contemporary cuisine circles, yet also celebrates local produce and community. That sounds like an eatery that’s very close to our heart. At Ambra, New York meets Italy, with this particular NYC Italian restaurant making its own distinct, culturally-rich mark on Hudson Street.
There are many ways to enjoy this cuisine, therein lies its beauty. At Ambra, we intentionally explore the uncomplicated, yet filled-to-the-brim deep roots of delectable Italian food, simultaneously elevating classic dishes as a result of our desire to always innovate, celebrate, explore, and elevate – it’s the old and the new.
And so, you can expect a traditional Italian feast ripe for your own interpretation. Let’s look at how an Italian meal is typically structured, while exploring Ambra’s signature dishes.
An Aperitivo welcomes you to imminent festivity, no matter the size of your meal or the duration of the outing. It’s the opening act and often suggests light drinks to awaken your palate. Meaning “to open,” a lot of enlivening delight can be found here as a pre-dinner introduction of sorts that is intimately intertwined with Italian social life.
It’s almost impossible not to start with a lighter, refreshing pour like a Negroni or Spritz. Try the Ginger Mint Lemonade that features Upstate (K) Vodka, Ginger Syrup, Mint, and Lemonade, or the non-alcoholic Na Blushing Yuzu that includes Sparkling Yuzu Limeade with a Mint Flavored Butterfly Pea Flower Ice Cube. The Ambra craft cocktail menu feels like a fresh breeze of signature Italian flavors.
This appetizer or starter is served just before the main course. “Anti” means “before,” and “pasto” means “meal.” How fitting. Antipasti dishes up a wide variety of cold and warm options, which showcases the fresh, high-quality, and simple ingredients so often associated with Italian food.
You’ll find that the relishing tastes of the Veal Meatballs pair exceptionally well with the fine selection of red wines available. Also on the Antipasti menu – the Crudo of the Day highlights seafood’s overall magnetic potential in Italian cuisine, with many luscious vegetarian dishes on display. Of course, there are also Roasted Peppers with Garlic, Capers, Oregano, and Olive Oil, or dipping Homemade Focaccia in a variety of sauces; perhaps the Crispy Long Stem Artichokes with a Vegan Lemon Aioli may catch your eye. These flavors are all perfectly at home at Ambra.
Primi Passion & Savored Secondi
We’ve arrived at the main event, and for good reason. It often includes the Primi and Secondi, most certainly a culmination of the quintessential Italian meal that most opt for. Typically, Primi dishes feature pastas like gnocchi, cannelloni, and lasagna. This course also takes note of exploring the openness that grain-based meals offer, like polenta and risotto. For another layer of freshness, a soup of the day is a must-try Primi here.
The next delicious opportunity takes the form of the Secondi. It considers the deep variety of richness that proteins like meat or seafood have to offer; in Italy, this is often also regional. The elaborate divinity of the Pan-seared Salmon or Seared NY Strip Steak at Ambra tells the very tales of irresistible Secondi. But be sure to try the variety of Contorni known as side dishes with this course, and include a vibrant palate cleanser in the form of Insalate.
At Ambra, Executive Chef John DeLucie celebrates the rich moments present on each plate; his homestyle pastas and luxurious accompaniments have made a name for themselves across state lines. Just try the Tagliatelle Al Limone or Spaghetti Al Pomodoro to come to this very same conclusion. Without neglecting the height of pizza glory that roams Ambra’s menu as well, it’s worth mentioning that Pizze, as it is also called, is neither a Primi nor a Secondi; often regarded as its own distinct course.
Variations of classic Italian dishes are a common practice in the cuisine based on the region you’re in. This is true for each course. At Ambra, the southern parts of Italy are explored, inspired by master chef DeLucie’s childhood. And so, we find ourselves at dessert, or Dolce. Chef DeLucie is often seen crafting unforgettable sweet endings, which can include pastries, Tiramisu, and Panna Cotta.
Inspired by seasonality, and in the spirit of ever-evolving invention, yet still rooted in Italian cooking, this stylish but simple NYC comfort spot’s dessert menu is always exciting and always happening. So, be sure to ask the friendly staff what sweet treats are waiting for you at the moment.
It’s not over just yet, though. The end of an Italian meal regularly sees a Caffe and Digestivo offering. Naturally, Caffe hints at a coffee, perhaps an Espresso before you leave? A Digestivo suggests alcoholic drinks that typically soothe digestion, hence the name. Brandies are a go-to, or if you’re not done finding vino’s sweet spot, a dessert wine is on the table. It’s the curtain call, and it’s bound to stay with you (until your next visit to Ambra).
A Masterful Italian Feast Awaits
Together, these courses create an Italian symphony. An art form in its own right, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci would be proud. Join us at Ambra for dinner, open Tuesday to Wednesday, 5–11 pm, Thursday to Saturday, 5–12 pm, and Sunday, 5–10 pm, with brunch coming soon. This Italian restaurant in NYC always seems to soothe every kind of Italian food longing, from Aperitivo to Digestivo. Buon appetito!