10 Columbus Circle
Missy Robbins, A Voce's Executive Chef, is one of Food and Wine magazine's top ten chefs for 2010, and previously worked at Spiagga in Chicago, a favorite of President and Mrs. Obama, and also an open kitchen. "Cooking in an open kitchen actually made me calmer," she says. Although a glass wall encloses the kitchen at A Voce on the third floor of the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle, it is visible to all in the 114-seat dining room and 34-seat bar area.
Robbins emphasizes flavor in cooking with traditional Italian ingredients. For example, in an appetizer called Funghi al Forno, "It's about the mushrooms," Robbins says. Trumpet royal mushrooms are roasted with butter and thyme to release their earthiness and served with a fonduta of fontina cheese and truffle, reduced cream, and a sprinkling of hazelnuts.
Pasta is handmade and the diamond-shaped Sagne alla Amatriciana is dressed with a sauce of San Marzano tomatoes, bacon and marjoram, sprinkled with pecorino cheese. Robbins has an affinity for marjoram, which she calls "the feminine version of oregano."
A signature secondi is Agnello, two grilled Colorado lamb chops served with braised lamb belly (the most concentrated lamb flavor), Yukon gold potatoes, and the buttery black Taggiasca olives from Liguria. Meyer lemon and chilies are so delicately used to enhance flavor that the succulent lamb practically sings an aria in your mouth.
A three-course $29 prix fixe (prezzo fisso in Italian) menu, available weekdays for lunch and early dinner, focuses on particular regions of Italy and changes every two weeks. A new series of chef's dinners with the sommelier began this fall with a white truffle dinner. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Entrees range from $22 to $34. -- Marian Betancourt
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