Alto: "Expense Account Italian" Alto Restaurant - CLOSED Tip by AimeeQ

This is a very good but expensive option in Midtown Manhattan. The restaurant is tucked away at the back of a corporate tower courtyard, and the decor says "power lunch" more than "romantic dinner." The floor to ceiling display of wine bottles that lines the dining room is impressive though and the service is friendly. This is the kind of place where you will be happiest if you are slapping down your corporate AmEx, but you will be comfortable doing it. Service is traditional but not stuffy and the dress code allows for a wide range (for Midtown East). The menu offers three options: a tasting menu (~$120++ without wine), a four course prix fixe ($85++ without wine) and a la carte (entrees ~$40++). The wine list is extensive and the sommelier was very good when we visiting, steering us towards a wine we might not otherwise have tasted but that we really enjoyed. The cooking is top - good ingredients that are well prepared but not overly fussy. If you want bells and whistles for this amount of money, you should look elsewhere.

Favorite Dish: The tasting menu gives a good overview of what the kitchen can do, encompassing fish, poultry and pasta in seven courses on the night I was there. As is typical with this kind of restaurant, each course was tiny, but enough to allow you to enjoy the flavors. In total there was plenty of food, ending with a simple but delicious caramel cake with ice cream that ended the meal on a light but flavorful note. I would highly recommend the tasting menu or at least the prix fixe option so that you can taste a few different things. Alto is the furthest thing from a red sauce Italian place, and it's possible to miss the Italian accent in the cooking if you don't indulge in a pasta course.

Address: 11 E. 53rd St. between Madison and 5th Avenues
Price Comparison: more expensive than average
Directions: Between 5th Ave. & Madison Ave.
Phone: 212.308.1099
Price: US$41 and up
Rating: 4
Theme: Italian
Website: http://www.altorestaurant.com

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  • Written Apr 3, 2008
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