Helmed by the proprietors of Trattoria Dopo Teatro in Times Square, Dopo East in the Upper East Side is a townhouse fashioned into a modern Italian restaurant with a rustic charm. It’s easy to forget that you’re dining at a restaurant until the waiter comes over with the menu. “Would you like sparkling or distilled water?” he asks politely. And then he hands you the wine menu, where the list ends at the bottom of the second page.
The wine is curated from various sections of the globe, and a popular one is the Prosecco Abati Regali, a sparkling Italian wine that goes very well with most dishes, especially pasta and seafood.
Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” plays gently in the background as the waiters shuffle around the townhouse in their crisp black and white uniform, lowering platters of colorful Italian cuisine in front of customers. This would be ideal for a romantic date night.
The dining room is graced with elegance — candles flicker in little glasses, a piano sits in the corner and gorgeous artwork from the Artioli Findlay gallery line the butter-yellow walls. On the ceiling, the crystal Venetian sconce boasts a timeless sophistication. The view from the dining room is refreshing — you get an eyeful of the outdoor garden, specially designed to resemble a mini winter wonderland with fake snow and a pretty Christmas tree in the center.
The menu itself is creatively crafted by the young and talented Executive Chef Patrizio D’Andrea who hails from Italy. Dopo Teatro East’s menu reflects the restaurant’s stance in serving healthy, traditional Italian cuisine with a contemporary twist. The ingredients feature a selection of organically-grown vegetables, hormone-free meats and fresh seafood. Presentation plays a big role here — the dishes are masterpieces of color and texture.
Start your evening with the Caprese. Fresh Buffalo mozzarella is fenced by peeled organic tomatoes and garnished with basil sprouts and balsamic vinegar, which is re-shaped to preserve the taste and to elevate the presentation. The tomatoes are peeled to retain the concentration of the taste and also to ease the slicing process so they don’t burst when jabbed with the knife. Removing the skin also reduces the acidity. We fell in love with the tomatoes at first bite. These sweet, succulent darlings were some of the best tomatoes we’d ever tasted.
The Piovra Alla Griglia is a must-try. Grilled octopus is served with baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes, Peruvian and Fingerling potatoes in lemon-garlic vinaigrette. The skin is first marinated and grilled for that charred, crispy texture. Next, the springiness of the meat catches you by surprise. It’s quite a contrast from the initial layer. While the skin has a nice crunch, the meat is tender and chewy. Together, they form a unique combination of taste and texture. Little cubes of purple Peruvian potato add color to the dish.
If you’re in the mood for pasta, the Paccheri al tonno Pinna Gialla comprises large artisanal tube pasta, which resembles hollow pillows among yellow fin tuna, green asparagus and bread crumbs tossed in saffron sauce. All pastas at Dopo Teatro East are homemade. The tuna is served in two different styles: cooked and raw. Now, if you’re skeptical about raw tuna, we’re pretty positive that you’ll fall in love with the freshness and creaminess of the tuna tartar. It is drizzled with lemon vinaigrette, which brings out the flavor of the fish. The sauce itself is an emulsion of shallots, fish broth, white wine and saffron.
Definitely opt for the Ravioli di Mais, which is sheep milk ricotta cheese pocketed in corn ravioli and served in a pool of black truffle sauce. Sprinkle some parmesan crumbs over the dish to enrich the flavor. The ravioli is really chewy and it breaks away to reveal a creamy mass of sweet cheese in the middle, which literally melts on your tongue. Black truffles add a unique taste to the dish — a nice balance to the sweetness of the corn and cheese.
Steak lovers should try the Bistecca Alla Griglia. It features a 28-day dry-aged ribeye steak accompanied by green scallions puree, juicy porcini mushrooms, rosemary potatoes and aged balsamic vinegar. The beef is lightly seasoned and juicy right to its core, while the mushrooms impart an earthy flavor.
Pair your meal with an Island Breeze. Pineapple juice and peach Schnapps create a saccharine fruitiness, with a distinct alcoholic pang bolstered by the vodka. The martini smells just as sweet as it tastes.
Treat yourself to the homemade Tiramisu’ dell’Est or the Torta di Ricotta… or both!
The tiramisu is heaven on a plate — extremely creamy tiramisu powdered with dark chocolate, a perfect combination of bitter and sweet. Tiramisu lovers are going to adore this.
The traditional ricotta cheesecake is teamed with strawberry ratatouille and doesn’t make you cringe from the overpoweringly sweetness the way most cheesecakes do. Instead, the cheese is light and buttery, with the sauce lending a right amount of sweetness. This goes well with a steaming cup of coffee and milk.
Chef D’Andrea is the mastermind behind the desserts, which are just as fresh and delectable as the savory dishes.
“The art, music and food go together here — it’s a theatre of eating well,” D’Andrea said. He graduated from a respected culinary school in Italy and has years of experience tucked beneath his belt, having cooked in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Hong Kong and New York. The menu is cultivated from his passion and creativity, as well as the restaurant owners’ vision in presenting quality Italian cooking.
Dopo Teatro East also hosts parties and events in its private rooms downstairs, including weddings.