From before you enter, Lincoln Ristorante, bolstering the north west portion of Lincoln Center Plaza, presents promises – the glass sides and sloped-roof geometric structure contrasting against the sensuous curves of the Henry Moore adrift in the pool opposite, are a metaphor for all that is great with northern Italian cooking. The curvaceous gnocchi in béchamel contrasting with the razor thin prosciutto di Parma, the biased sliced tagliatta di manzo and the round, supple zuppa inglese.
Bolognese cuisine was in the atmosphere. They young hostesses were gracious without attitude and, once inside the scene from the busy, impeccable, glass-enclosed kitchen excited the sense. While waiting for the table, one can almost decide what to eat as the waiters whisk the dishes from kitchen to table; but they are not too busy to answer a waiting guest’s question.
Such promises, unfortunately, were broken. For my appetizer Lincoln Mortadella, Testa and Prosciuto di Parma, the trio of meats was cut so thin that they lost their flavor and whatever taste was overtaken by the quince mostarda. The six slices, in total, were draped on deep fried gnocchi puffs
that clumsily shattered when cut. And for $19.00, the approximately 2 ounces of meat equal almost $150 per pound.
I have eaten hundreds of meal in Imola, Bologna, Modena, and Parma, the cities along the Via Emilia, the ancient Roman trunk road - but never did I experience such an ill-conceived and tasteless amalgam as the Cappelacci di Stracchino. Transalted as “ugly hats,” I am afraid the chef was too literal. The dish consisted of dabs of white sauce on the plate, dry pasta packets with hints of brussel sprouts, a few broken raw hazelnuts, covered with black truffles slices that looked and felt like holy communion hosts, with about as much flavor. My companion ordered the sea trout that was cooked to perfection but it was returned to the kitchen because our waiter forgot to eliminate the blood orange zabaglione as requested.
On the plus side, Lincoln has a deep list of Italian wines and it is one of the best places in NYC for special Emilia Romagna wines, so if they are a favorite, you will find them here. If only the food would match.
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