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Il Punto: Italian Tradition in Trendy Hell’s Kitchen

Ilpunto offers traditional Italian fare in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan.

Il Punto Ristorante occupies a central spot on the corner of 9th Avenue and 38th Street, and reflects both Hell’s Kitchen’s past as well as its future. It blends the best of Old World, family-style Italian cooking with the elegance of a trendy white-table-cloth restaurant in one of Manhattan’s hottest neighborhoods.

The broad swath of Manhattan, generally from 34th Street to 59th Street, and from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River, was once a warehouse district and home to working-class Irish and Italian families.

Over the years it’s undergone a number of changes, but the biggest, gentrification, swept the area in the 1990s. Gleaming luxury, high-rise apartment buildings now dot the neighborhood, which revolves around the Port Authority bus terminal and West Side rail yards.

By name, the restaurant may not be that well known. For most of its life, it was called Osteria Delsi, which is Italian for Delsi Tavern. But last January, the owners changed the name to better reflect the area’s renaissance. Now its name in Italian means simply “The Point,” which is apt given its location.

The change has caused some confusion among long-time patrons, who may have thought the restaurant changed hands. But everything is the same, from the owner, to chefs Michele Orsino and Mauro Andrade.

The same goes for the menu, which features seafood, reflecting the restaurant’s southern Italian roots. Il Punto Ristorante offers lunch, brunch and both pre- and post-theatre dinner fare. The city’s thriving theatre district is a short walk away, and the stroll up 38th Street to 9th Avenue is well worth it.

While it’s located close to a major tourist destination, Il Punto is more representative of a neighborhood restaurant.

Such establishments often escape the attention of tourists, but to New Yorkers they are the reason why the city has a rich culinary reputation.

At Il Punto, everything, from bread to pasta to the desserts, is made on the premises. The restaurant’s signature dish is the Timballo, layers of wide-ribbon pasta, béchamel (white sauce) and meat ragout.

IlPunto dessert

Also a specialty of the chef is Pappardelle Della Selva Nera, a dish that includes wide ribbons of pasta, More di Gelsi (baby greens, cherry tomatoes, berries and honey, toasted walnuts and balsamic dressing), pinoli nuts, amarena, raspberry vodka, blueberry grappa, asiago cheese, and fresh mint leaf.

Brunch includes classic Italian dishes such as Frittata Di Zucchini E Caprino, (eggs with green zucchini and goat cheese); Carpaccio di Manzo (paper thin slices of pepper crusted filet mignon, arugula, shaved parmagiana and lemon dressing) and a full palette of pasta. Il Punto also offers the usual fare of waffles, pancakes, eggs any style and omelettes.

On my visit for dinner, I sampled Il Punto’s Tortine di Granchio, an appetizer consisting of miniature crab cakes, frisse corn, fried capers, fennel, roasted peppers and spicy sauce.

From there I ordered from their specials menu and went with the Branzino, which is striped bass. In this case, it was grilled whole and deboned before serving with a white wine and lemon sauce. The fish is presented whole, before it’s deboned – no frozen filets here.

IlPunto4

Throughout the meal I went with a Pinot Grigio, a fruity white wine that is always a great complement for seafood. Il Punto serves four different kinds, all Italian in origin.

Desserts are homemade and the restaurant’s signature creation is Pera Al Barolo, a pear with Barolo red wine, cinnamon and ponna cotta. Normally, I go with a restaurant’s specialty, but in this case, I decided to be different, just to see if the quality runs the depth of the menu. I’m happy to say it does.

I had the Napoleone Al Cioccolato, a chocolate Napoleon with wild cherries. It was sandwiched between two cookies. Sometimes the richness of a chocolate Napoleon can be a little overpowering, but this one was light and flavorful.

All dishes are made-to-order, no processed assembly-line food here. Best of all the prices were reasonable. Appetizers were $10 to $14 and main courses ranged from $15 for pasta dishes up to $35 dollars for the Lombatina al Vincotto, a grilled tender rib veal chop in a red wine reduction, drizzled with vincotto and sprinkled black truffles, with mashed potatoes and spinach. Only two dinner entrees were over $30.

Il Punto is what dining is all about in New York City. Forget the big chains and the high-priced tourist restaurants. As anyone who calls themselves a Manhattanite will tell you, it’s all about authenticity. And that’s what Il Punto is all about.

Il Punto Ristorante

507-509 9th Avenue (Corner of 38th St.)

New York, NY.

(212) 244-0088

Moderately Priced

For More Info go to: Il Punto Ristorante

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