Meet Our New Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant: NORMA Gastronomia Siciliana
Every restaurant lover dreams of the day the perfect neighborhood spot opens near them. For those times that even those of us who love to cook just don’t feel like cooking or getting in a cab, we require someone talented enough in the kitchen to keep us from regretting our decision to not eat at home.
So we’re especially grateful that talented chef-owner Salvatore Fraterrigo (or “Toto,” as his chef’s jacket states) took all the experience he gained from his days cooking in Italy, Paris, and New York City (including at Il Buco and i Trulli) and channeled it into his charming and delicious new NORMA Gastronomia Siciliana.
How charming? By our second visit, Leonardo (in the striped sweater, below) greeted us both by name and remembered our table and our favorite wines by the glass (which included their gently-priced Chardonnay and Frappatto).
How delicious? Our leftover pizza (having sampled both the $16 eggplant-pepper-and-zucchini Ortolana and $19 Porcini versions), which we enjoyed for breakfast the next morning, was even better than the fresh pizza we’ve been served at other touted spots.
The knife-and-fork-required NORMA Arancine ($12) is so filling we didn’t order this delicious stuffed cone of deep-fried rice on our second visit so we could force ourselves to try other dishes — which is how we discovered that NORMA also offers our favorite new “eggplant Parmesan” in the city. It isn’t anything like any other version we’ve ever had. Toto celebrates the flavor and texture of eggplant through his timballo di melanzane alla Parmegiana ($14), which is a timale featuring beautifully wrapped slices of tender eggplant on a bed of intensely-flavored tomato sauce.
NORMA is due to open for breakfast soon, so we’re already dreaming of having a new spot to enjoy our morning coffee and Italian pasticcio in the weeks ahead.
NORMA Gastronomia Siciliana is at 438 Third Avenue (bet. 30th & 31st Streets) in Manhattan. 212.889.0600. Website: normarestaurant.com