I recently had the opportunity to sample some of the new items on the menu of Theater District restaurant Insieme (Italian for “together”), compliments of new executive chef, Andres Julian Grundy. As a New York City resident, I’m required to feel compelled to avoid Times Square and the immediate vicinity whenever possible. But this restaurant is making me second-guess that compulsion.
Truthfully, the proximity to the city’s most popular section is particularly great for tourists looking for a memorable meal before (or after) a Broadway show. As soon as the door closes, you'll forget you’re in the hustle-and-bustliest part of the city.
Chef Grundy—who began his career working at Daniel Boulud’s Daniel—works with Maine's Sparrow Arc Farm to create his menu, often using ingredients not normally seen in restaurants. I tried and enjoyed a dahlia bulb puree, for example, and will probably never see it on a menu again. The farm tells him what ingredients will be available for the upcoming year and, based on this, Chef Grundy crafts his recipes.
The menu is ever-changing, which helps keep things fresh and interesting. I tried several dishes, including a broiled wild hamachi; only around 250 of this fish are caught every year, so it was an honor to be able to try it. The slow-cooked short ribs (pictured left; apologies for the poor lighting) were so tender that they practically fell apart. They were served with geoduck clam, which I have to admit scared me. (Seriously, have you ever seen one?) But it was sliced in thin strips, yielding a texture not unlike calamari.
Grundy brings something new to the table with desserts too, like the goat’s milk ricotta with acacia honey, rosemary gelato, and bee pollen (pictured at top).
All in all, it was a unique dining experience, and helped to renew my faith in the oftentimes banal and/or kitschy food choice that tends to be present in this part of the city.
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure.