If this image from Risotteria Melotti doesn’t make you want to go there, who knows what will?
When my dad comes to town for dinner there are specific requirements as to what we can eat. He and his wife are gluten-free and GMO-free and are actually really healthy because of it. But finding a place to eat that we’ll all like can sometimes be a bit difficult.
Fortunately, I had been planning on going to Risotteria Melotti since the inception of East Village Vibe, so when he said, “Let’s eat,” I already knew of the place. And so we embarked.
Here’s another big reason I wanted to go there: The place feels like Italy because it is Italy. All the rice they cook comes from the family farm back in Italy. While farm-to-table might be a stretch, they take their risotto very seriously.
The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is how rustic the décor is. The exposed brick, the simple tables and chairs, and the benches along the wall make for a beautiful but simple design. That being said, because the restaurant is small, it made a big guy like me feel a tiny bit uncomfortable—getting into my seat was a bit difficult.
We started with a few different appetizers. We had a polenta with mushrooms dish that was really tasty. The variety of different mushrooms offered many pleasant tastes. It could have been cheesier, but blame that on our American culture of more cheese please!
My dad and his wife shared the Piadina di riso which is a rice flatbread served with three different meats: Sopressata, pancetta, and prosciutto. All I can say on this is that I didn’t get to have any, so it must have been really tasty.
We each got our own risotto dish as an entree. My girlfriend had the scallop risotto which had great flavor, but the scallops were a little overcooked. I found myself eating her dish, but that was only because she kept stealing from mine: The duck breast risotto. This was, by far, the best one on the table. It was rich and savory. The duck was flawless. I would go back week after week to eat this if I knew that my heart wouldn’t stop.
My dad and his wife had the mixed mushroom and mixed seafood risottos, respectively. Both enjoyed their meals but we found was that the portions were far too big; we simply couldn’t eat it all. However, we didn’t regret getting the appetizers because it did take a long time for the meals to come. I understand risotto is a labor of love, but this seemed to take even longer.
At the end of the night, my dad took care of the bill that, with tip, came to $133. When I told him I was going to be writing a review, I asked if he felt it was worth it. “Definitely worth it. Three appetizers, four meals. Totally worth it.” That’s praise in and of itself.
Risotteria Melotti (309 E. 5th St. b/t 1st & 2nd Aves.) will be my go-to restaurant when the people I am dining with are gluten free—or if I just want more risotto. The food is reasonably priced and other than being crammed in a bit, it was a really great meal.