FALAI (this restaurant has closed)

Sunday night I went with a gal to Falai. Falai is an Italian restaurant in the Lower East side I had heard great things about and have been wanting to go for a while. The chef/owner Iacopo Falai used to be the pastry chef at Le Cirque.

Falai is very white inside, in a charming manner, and not fancy at all. It felt very pleasant. The wine list has all Italian bottles, nothing less than $48. My dining companion and I shared a $60 bottle of wine from some part of Italy that was superb.

They gave us a salted square foccacia to start with, which seemed pretzel-like. It wasn't warm but it was nice. During the dinner there was also a guy walking around with various types of bread. We tried a few and all were very nice.

Our meal started with a fantastic amuse bouche of a curried ricotta ball with a squash soup poured over it. It was small, simple, and simply splendid. The perfect way to start the meal.

For an appetizer we shared Falai's take on a mushroom salad. It was three different types of mushrooms, all flavored differently and all delicately plated with different sauces underneath. It was such a unique dish. I was astonished how each mushroom not only tasted different, but their textures were all different as well. I truly loved this dish.

For entrees we shared the gnudi and venison loin. One great aspect I'd like to point out about Falai is that they split the entrees for two. So, instead of giving one bowl of the gnudi to me and a plate of venison to my companion, making us reach over and try each other's dishes; we both got a bowl of gnudi and we both got a plate of venison. I loved it.

Now, back to that gnudi. They were two green balls made of baby spinach and ricotta served in a butter and sage sauce. The gnudi were soft, fluffy, and purely delicate. The butter and sage at the bottom of the bowl was soothing. This was an amazing dish.

The venison loin came with a root vegetable called Salsify and a beet jam. It was perfectly cooked medium rare, tender and juicy. I liked it a lot.

For dessert we shared the passion fruit souffle. It had a crusty top with some powdered sugar, and our waiter pierced a hole in the middle with a spoon and poured the passion fruit sauce inside. The souffle was airy, and wasn't too heavy at all, which I truly enjoyed. The passion fruit wasn't too sweet and tasted great. The dish was orgasmic and unbelievable!

Too be honest, this was one of the great dining experiences of my life. It was all very delicate and precise, and I enjoyed every part of the meal. The service was nice as well. I think the superb wine helped a bit too, I cannot lie. I definitely plan on going back to Falai to indulge in another amazing experience. Or at least have another go with that souffle. You should too.

68 Clinton St. (at Rivington St.)

New York, NY 10002