Inside Scoop: Cucina 8½
Cucina 8½ offers an elevated experience of rustic Italian cuisine in midtown's iconic Solow Building. The grand space features a winding staircase that opens to a spacious dining room and a vast bar area for pre-dinner drinks, accompanied by a live pianist on select nights.
Chef Michael D'Armi’s menu is inspired by New York and Italian culinary traditions, with many tableside presentations. Thoughtful yet simple approaches enhance the natural flavors in each dish. The menu features housemade pastas with a rotating Italian regional menu, as well as Italian-American classics. Standouts include a crudo selections like tuna tartare with Tabasco mayo, salmon with crispy shallots, and hamachi with blood orange, pickled fennel, and citrus basil oil. Pastas and pizzas are prepared in-house. Think classic rigatoni pomodoro with tomato and basil and raviolo with egg yolk and parmesan. The bar accompanies meals with venerable classics like a selection of Negroni variations, with smoking cocktails for aromatics. A 200-bottle wine list offers selections by the glass and a robust Italian selection, featuring small and iconic producers. To keep with the theme of Italian charm, there's an after-dinner pushcart with digestifs, serving grappa, amara, and Vin Santo to round off the experience.
The redesigned space by fashion designer Cesar Galindo features a sweeping staircase, striking opalescent wall treatments, and inspirations that have high-fashion Fifth Avenue meeting Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus." The spiral staircase leads into the open- format, sophisticated dining room, a dramatic entry for a memorable occasion.