In the heart of Chelsea, on the site of the former Eros Café, a rustic and cozy new restaurant, Eolo: Sicilia A Tavola has been born. And, husband and wife team Chef Melissa Muller-Daka and Tarek Daka have a certain hit on their hands.
Named for the god of the wind in Greek mythology and the Aolian Islands of Sicily that took his name, Eolo boasts a contemporary Sicilian menu. The servers point to the various flavors of the region and its historically diverse influences throughout Sicily’s history: from the Greeks, Romans and Arabs to Byzantines, Normans and Jews—and beyond. The menu changes every few weeks with specials acknowledging seasonal occasions and traditions for each of these different groups.
The cocktail menu featured yummy-sounding concoctions like the Basil & Berry Martini and Thyme Champagne Cocktail; the dinner menu was likewise filled with inspired offerings.
As an appetizer, my dinner companion had the seared scallops with braised fennel, carrot puree and vanilla reduction that was not only inspired, but orgasmic! I went with the duck confit salad that was very tasty and boasted a generous helping of duck, with a dash of horseradish in the dressing that gave it a nice kick.
Eolo has splits of pasta— each dish can be ordered as either an appetizer or as an entrée. We went with a half serving each of gnudi and tortelli so we could also try the sides of risotto and salsify. The pumpkin gnudi, sitting in incandescent brown butter, was divine. With toasted pumpkin seeds and an artichoke to accompany it, the warm concoction was a mouth-watering nutty delight, which made me feel very toasty on a chilly night.
The tortelli—stuffed with eggplant, ricotta and oven-dried tomatoes—was covered with a light sauce of eggplant puree, stewed onions, tomato confit and ricotta salata shavings; a substantial, saucy burst of complementary flavors that really hit the spot. The dish was prepared with a fun new twist that completely avoided the common problem of eggplant being bland and tasteless.
The pear and saffron risotto was fragrant, tasty and creamy without being too rich while the salsify, a root vegetable that is part of the sunflower family, was a welcome stalwart and sweet-ish companion to our otherwise savory helpings.
For dessert, we ordered a French Press for two and the goat cheese tartufo, a deconstructed four-cheese cheesecake (goat cheese, ricotta, mascarpone and cream cheese) with a fennel and strawberry compote accompanied by a scoop of buttermilk ice cream. This treat was simply amazing, but even more delectable was chef-proprietor Melissa Muller-Daka’s grandmother’s recipe for Sfinci: springy and light fried balls of dough made to order (with a bit of ricotta in the dough and sprinkled lightly with cinnamon and sugar) filled with orange pastry cream and accompanied by bittersweet chocolate dipping sauce. Both desserts were just the right balance of light sweetness to end our meal. We walked out eminently satisfied with our night’s food adventure.
Eolo is open from 10am on weekends and from 11 am on weekdays. Price points range in the areas of $7-14 for lunch; $8-14 for brunch; $4-14 for dinner appetizers, $7 -9/$14-18 pastas; $14-32dinner entrees and $9-12 for desserts.
190 7th Ave @ 21st Street