As everyone knows, Delfina has been around forever and a day, it’s beloved by many, and it spawned Delfina Pizza. OG Delfina has been temporarily closed while undergoing renovations, but it has set out some spiffy outdoor space with heaters and music, and is using Delfina Pizza’s kitchen to put out the same, outstanding food they’ve been known for lo these many years.
When the reno is done, the pizzeria and restaurant will be one; a much larger space with a pizza to-go window. You’ll still be able to order it to eat inside the restaurant, but there will no longer be a separate indoor pizza space. I’m excited to see the new Delfina interior, but we couldn’t pass up a lovely summer day to eat outside
We started with the focaccia: A crispy, pillowy dream of bread, what other focaccia strives to be.
Our server told us that Delfina brought in a new pizza chef to work on their dough, and he has produced fabulously airy and practically pornographic focaccia. I ended up ordering a couple of fluffy slabs of it for a weekend party, and it was quickly devoured.
Next, on our server’s adamant recommendation, the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had, bar none, period.
Made with a smoky whitefish aioli, even the seafood-averse BF was taken aback at how glorious they were: Creamy, gently redolent of the sea, dotted with crispy capers. You must get these.
Next, agnolotti dal plin:
Ahh, agnolotti dal plin, those heady, little parcels of Piemontese pasta, typically stuffed with roast meats and broth and pinched shut. A delight in any form, but when paired with shaved summer black truffles, headily aromatic to the nth degree, and a wondrous fonduta? Mio Dio! The BF isn’t fond of truffles, as he feels they overpower the food, but he could not stop eating this. Rich and heavenly, and the aroma! You’ll want to linger over these for a while.
Next came the Delfina oxtail and risotto Milanese, which arrived separately.
Hunks of succulent flesh on the bone, napped in a savory ragu made with warming spices, fatty in all the right places. And then the buttery, perfectly al dente risotto came.
As the silky-textured grains of plump rice, dotted with melty bits of bone marrow, wafted tempting tendrils of aromatic cheese and butter up to our nostrils, we died and went to that big tavola in the sky. Certainly the best course of the evening, where every dish stood out. Our only complaint was that there wasn’t enough risotto, because we wanted a luscious spoonful of it with each bite of that rich oxtail. We ended up with a ton of that fantastic meat left over, but scraped the risotto bowl clean.
We also ordered the scarlet runner beans, baked with garlic, sage, soffritto, and olive oil.
The weakest dish, and yet, if I’d had just that with a hunk of their focaccia and a carafe of chianti, I’d have been more than content. Meaty and substantial, these beans are life-sustaining.
And, oh yeah … the pizza.
We got the pizza, knowing we’d have a taste and take the rest home for midnight snacking/dinner tomorrow. Beautifully fresh, raw, marinated cherry tomatoes; basil; ricotta salata; it was zesty, juicy, garlicky, with an incredibly light, crispy and flavorful crust. It’s easily my favorite pizza in the neighborhood now. (Sorry, Yellow Moto, but there’s room for all of you!) (Note: this particular pizza does not travel well, as the fresh tomatoes seep into the crust and make it pretty soggy. Eat it up quick!)
I had two of their cocktails, BF had a pilsner and we each had a glass of wine: Chianti for him, and for me the valpolicella. I wish they had more reds by the glass, but these two were excellent. The menu changes seasonally, and I’m dying to try their stuffed artichokes, the clam and carbonara pizza, saffron arancini, the gnocchi, all of it. Online, you can order Pizza Delfina provisions: Frozen meatballs, pizza dough, lemon vinaigrette, sauces … abondanza!
How has it been so many years since I’ve been here? As one of our preeminent Italian restaurants, Delfina needs to go back in regular rotation. It’s like visiting old friends and family.
3621 18th Street