Venturing down to the East Village for dinner is always an adventure and this night was no different. Cozily situated on 11th Street between Avenues B and C, Matilda Restaurant sparkles while pushing the boundaries of fusion. An unlikely marriage of Tuscan and Mexican cuisine is highlighted in a wide array of interesting, bold and delicious dishes. Founder and co-owner, Maristella Innocenti, is a charismatic fixture in this welcoming environment and previously was a competitor on Food Network’s hit show, Chopped.
We started off our evening with a couple of the specialty cocktails. The Prosejito (lime, sugar, mint and Prosecco) and the Picante y Apasionada (jalapeno infused tequila, lime, triple sec and passion fruit) truly sung—Delicious! Alongside the libatious marvels we enjoyed the house Guacamole Alla Toscana (with basil and red pepper, served with tortilla chips and brick oven roasted focaccia). The addition of fresh basil to this classic, started to articulate the marriage of these two cultures. On deck were a couple of uniquely delicious tacos. The Al Pastor Con Pesche (braised pork with peaches) and the All’agnello (braised lamb in chipotle sauce) were stunningly original, yet seemingly classic. They truly captured Mexican street food, but managed to elevate the flavors in an extremely pleasing way.
We moved on to the Chalupitas Di Polenta (round polenta crostini topped with chorizo, mushrooms and crema fresca). I am not quite sure how they got these round polenta discs so perfectly crispy, yet chewy, but they were a magical, textural treat! Next up was the Crostone Di Pecorino Con Huitlacoche Tartufato (sheep milk cheese “bruschetta” topped with huitlacoche and truffle oil). This was simply divine. Huitlacoche is growing in popularity and is something that you should go out of your way to experience. Commonly referred to as Mexican Truffle, it is actually a fungus that grows on corn. Huitlacoche was prized by the Aztecs and is still commonly found as an ingredient in Mexican and Central American cuisine—a true and delicious delicacy.
Our entrees consisted of Costillas De Res En Salsa Dulce Y Picocitas (braised short ribs in ancho chile and guava sauce, served with mashed potatoes) and Spaghetti Prosciutto E Calamari (spaghetti with prosciutto, calamari and pico de gallo in a creamy sauce). These were both deliciously rich and again playfully fused these two cultures.
We concluded with a Mexican Chocolate Cake and Dulce de Leche ice cream—a sweet ending to a memorable meal. Matilda’s warmth, charm and cuisine are three of many reasons to put this on your list.