I have a serious, life-long, nearly debilitating crush on handmade pasta. I love its freshness, its tender bite, and the way just a little sauce elevates it into the highest form of art. When I see it on a menu, at places like La Petite Grocery or August, I'm done. Take the menu away, just bring me the pasta, please. Pronto. So Domenica, whose menu features handmade pasta at every turn, among other authentically prepared Italian delights, naturally holds a place very dear to my heart--my almost Italian, highly dramatic, pasta-loving heart.
I met the chef of Domenica, Alon Shaya, last year at the Tabasco event I attended on Avery Island, where he proceeded to make fusilli by hand, torture shrimp into a beautiful stock, and generally wow us all with his homemade cured meats and warm olives. He's a master at his craft, and the restaurant reflects his easy-yet-professional style. Vegetarians and vegans have nothing to fear here: just tell them, and they'll please most eagerly.
with your cheese and/or salumi board, you get these savory "beignets", little puffs of crackly, buttery bread
At Avery Island, Shaya prepared a 5-course tasting menu featuring different Tabasco sauces. The meat course was a slow-roasted porchetta, but for the vegetarians, he offered a whole roasted cauliflower. You can order this at Domenica, along with the most fantastic whipped feta cheese as a sauce. Hint: try this whipped feta on everything you possibly can. It never fails!
whole roasted cauliflower with its accompaniment of whipped feta (looks like hummus, but is so not hummus)
This is a great place to bring a bunch of friends and order many small plates so everyone can have a taste of the good life. Be warned that it will be a little on the noisy side, so save your important discussions for another time and place. Also, though they have a wine list, you can bring your own bottles with NO corkage fee. True! Plus, they're making some smashingly good king cakes these days. Check out their happy hour, 3:00-6:00 daily, and be on the lookout for their Seder Menu, which promises to be special.