Autumn caprese salad $16
Underneath four dainty rings of sliced pear was a thick slab of house-made mozzarella and a bed of spicy arugula. The pears, sweet, tart and crisp, paired well with the smooth, creamy cheese. The small mouthfuls of fried artichokes were suitably salty, charred just a little for a great charcoal flavor. Drizzled with a light balsamic vinaigrette. Disappointingly, though, we felt the dish was undone by the mozzarella, which was a bit too rubbery, like halloumi.
Squash soup $12
Created with neither butter nor cream, this soup was a perfect, warming option for darkening autumn days. Smooth and flavorful, the delicious soup was filled with tiny gnocchetti, bright chestnuts and crunchy whole-wheat croutons.
Kabocha squash tortelloni $23
We didn’t regret ordering this second squash dish during our meal. One of the better pastas available, the thick tortelloni were filled with luxurious kabocha squash (a Japanese variety of winter squash, known for its strong, yet sweet flavor and moist, fluffy texture). The generous parcels were covered with flavorful, truffle-y wild mushrooms, grated pecorino cheese and delicious aged balsamic.
Duck and foie gras ravioli $26
Our second pasta dish was a decadent selection of duck and foie gras ravioli. While the pasta was a little thicker and sturdier than we would have liked, the packets were filled with moist, gamey meat that melted in the mouth. They were served on a bed of parsley root puree and garnished with crunchy roasted parsnip and a sweet dried-fruit sauce.
Pumpkin cheesecake sundae $13
For dessert, we decided to share this appealing-sounding sundae. When it arrived, the tall glass was filled with scoops of seasonal pumpkin and sweet cheesecake gelato. This was covered with a comforting cinnamon-caramel sauce and liberally sprinkled with glazed pecans. The bad news was that the pumpkin ice cream had clearly been thawed and frozen multiple times, developing the crunchy ice crystals that transform something good into something not so nice.
Having eaten at Telepan for brunch (excellent), I was excited to return for dinner. Chef Bill Telepan’s restaurant is famous for its superb farm-to-table cuisine and, for the most part, we weren’t disappointed. The meal got off to a bumpy start with some dodgy gruyere toasts as an amuse but, as we submitted our orders and the fresh bread arrived, things started looking up. The squash soup was a great autumn offering, while the caprese salad had a way to go (the mozzarella really let it down). After that, we enjoyed our pasta – noting that it wasn’t the finest, Italian-quality fare but good, hearty, American food with an elegant, farm-to-table twist. The dessert was so-so but, while Telepan is safely ensconced on the Sandy-safe Upper West Side, perhaps we should allow them some weather-related benefit of the doubt.
As far as the dining room, it’s not super casual (there are white linen table clothes and uniformed waiters) but you could stroll in with jeans and a button down shirt without a problem. The staff are friendly, the space warm and cozy and the prices pretty reasonable. All in all, an excellent choice if you’re anywhere on the Upper West Side and are looking for a thoroughly tasty, high-quality meal.
72 W. 69th St.