Epistrophy
 
 

A cozy Nolita spot that evokes the spirit of Sardinia

By David Farley

Here’s a fun trick: If you want make an Italian swoon, say the word “Sardinia.” Italians love everything about this plus-sized island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea just west of the central part of the boot. But you needn’t hop on a trans-Atlantic to play this game—or to enjoy the island’s bounty of edible delights. Just direct your ship to Nolita. Since 2005, Epistrophy and its Sardinian owners have been serving up Italian cuisine, and Sardinian fare in particular, to a loyal clientele.

This makes the diminutive, comfortable restaurant something of an anomaly on two fronts. First, a good Sardinian dish is hard to find in New York City, and for a restaurant to remain open in the city for 13 years is proof enough that they’re doing more than something right.

Order a glass of full-bodied Sardinian red, Cannonau, and sink into the cozy vibe—enhanced by the abstract paintings on the walls and shelves lined with old books—while waiting for the dishes to hit your table. The crunchy zucchini and ricotta-stuffed croquettes or the zesty and tender veal meatballs will get you started off just right, while tuna tartar arrives on top of a piece of carasau, a salt-and-rosemary-studded crispy flat bread native to the Italian island.
Heartier Sardinian dishes include spaghetti in a luscious squid ink sauce, and brasato al Cannonau, beef braised in a sauce made from Sardinian Cannonau wine, rendering the meat delicate and delicious and offering subtle hints of sweetness from the wine. The menu also skips over to the Italian mainland with hits like the chicken cutlet, breaded and lightly fried in the Milanese fashion, refreshingly free of grease yet still crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside at the same time.

If there’s room for dessert, the creamy, thick chocolate mousse provides a sweet finish.

The restaurant takes its name from Epistrophy, which is a jazz standard composed by Thelonious Monk in 1957. It is a tribute to owner Luca Fadda’s jazz background.

hours

9 AM–midnight daily

price range

$19 (cotoletta alla Milanese) to $24 (tonno on truffled pea sauce)
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