Restaurant Review: Masseria dei Vini Fine Italian Dining

pasta duo cover photo by gail worley
Pasta to Die For (All Photos By Gail)

Do you like Italian food? I sure do.  Since my favorite neighborhood  place closed before Covid, and Arthur Avenue is a long haul if you’re not already in the area,  I’ve been looking for a restaurant that strikes the perfect balance of location, service, atmosphere and, of course, delicious food, to steal my heart away. Little did I suspect that I would discover a new favorite Italian place in the excellent Masseria dei Vini, conveniently located around the corner from my office. Win win!

front of restaurant photo by gail woley

At Masseria dei Vini you can feel the welcoming  vibe as soon as you enter off of busy 9th Avenue: the space is bright and sophisticated but also warm and inviting. Like all great restaurants that are about so much more than being a place to eat, Masseria dei Vini has a good back story.

dining area and bar photo by gail worley

La Masseria Group was formed by childhood friends (both natives of Capri) Giuseppe (Peppe) Iuele (formerly of La Locanda dei Vini ) and Vincenzo (Enzo) Ruggiero (formerly of the legendary Bice NY). Executive Chef Giuseppe (Pino) Coladonato, from a small town in Puglia, met his future partners while working as the Head Chef at Sette Mezzo. The trio’s first venture, La Masseria  opened in the Theater District in September 2004.

rows of tables with wine photo by gail worley

Masseria dei Vini (Masseria of Wine) opened in Hell’s Kitchen in 2014.  Like the group’s other restaurants, its name refers to the Pugliese word for a fortified farmhouse that also serves as a hotel or restaurant, using only farm fresh ingredients to create classic Italian dishes.  My dining companion, Anne, and I felt like family from the moment we were seated just adjacent to their impressive wine cases. The restaurant has an extensive wine program with more than 400 different labels, with approximately 90 percent of the catalog coming from Italy and the other 10 percent from around the world.

You may notice that servers and front-of-the-house staff all work as a team to make sure you feel as excited as they are about the food they are going to serve you, and this means you will have a fun evening. Everyone seems to be from Italy and they genuinely enjoy telling you stories about each dish, how it’s prepared and where the ingredients come from. If you are torn between one or more dishes — which  is easy because each dish sounds amazing — they are happy to make a suggestion.  Everything comes together to elevate your meal to a truly memorable, fine dining experience.

interior with archway photo by gail

Masseria dei Vini embraces a contemporary take on classic favorites.  The cuisine concept features daily crudos, a large selection of house-made pastas and traditional dishes from Puglia.

pizza oven photo by gail worley

They also offer a large selection of Neapolitan-style pizzas made in their Ferrara wood-burning pizza oven, which contains real lava rocks from Mount Vesuvius, giving the dishes a distinct flavor.

Now, let’s get to the food!

mdv martini photo by gail worley

As usual, we started with a cocktail! Behold, the M.D.V. Martini, shaken with muddled fresh raspberries, beluga vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice and simple syrup. I love a fruity drink and this was just to my taste, and well chilled — perfectly refreshing on a hot summer evening. It is also a generous size, which I like.

lentil dip and bread basket photo by gail worley

While you peruse the extensive menu, they will bring you a basket of the most delicious Focaccia, which is accompanied by a dish of lentils in a garlicky olive oil — addicting!

pizza margherita photo by gail worley

This Margherita Pizza ($23.50) with the classic ingredients of mozzarella fior di latte, tomato sauce and fresh basil, arrived hot and fresh at our table just minutes after we ordered it.  All pizza ingredients are imported from Italy and the house-made dough is  left to breathe for 72 hours before baking, making it lighter-than-usual and more digestible. One person could easily make a meal of their favorite pizza, but we wanted to try many different  dishes, so we split everything.

pasta duo for text photo by gail worley

Next, we shared two pasta dishes: the Penne Alla Masseria ($28.50) and Ravioli Di Angelina ($29.50) Please note that these photos show half portions — the servers plated it for us before bringing it out. The Penne Alla Masseria, which is up front in the above photo, comes in a light creamy tomato sauce with chucks of bacon, radicchio and smoked mozzarella cheese. Honestly, it was insane, and probably the best pasta dish I have ever had in any restaurant. I would definitely order it again, but I would not share, because it was just too good.

ravioli close up photo by gail worley

Here’s  a close up of the Ravioli Di Angelina, which is stuffed with homemade fresh Caciotta cheese (lighter than ricotta) and served in a creamy tomato sauce Capri style. So delicious.

chicken breast photo by gail worley

Our meat course was next, and above you will see my half portion of the Battuta Di Pollo Alla Griglia ($29.50), grilled thinly-pounded chicken breast served with a chilled salad of string beans, potatoes and tomatoes. This is a very light but flavorful dish and perfect to accompany a meal that also includes bread, pizza and pasta!

broccoli rabe photo by gail worley

No meal is complete without a  green thing, such as this Broccoli Di Rapa ($15.50), sautéd broccoli rabe with garlic and oil. Good, and good for you.

dining tables with wine cases photo by gail worley

After a short period of rest, it was time for dessert. This time there was no sharing!

glazed lemon cake photo by gail worley

I was excited to find something on offer that I had never even heard of, let alone tried before: Delizia Al Limone ($14),  lemon glazed, custard-filled sponge cake, with whipped cream, raspberry coulis and some fresh berries. Look how pretty it is, because I am about to destroy it.

glazed lemon cake inside photo by gail worley

This dessert was apparently created in 1978 and hails from the Amalfi Coast! It was amazing!

cheesecake photo by anne raso
This Photo by Anne Raso

Anne loves her some cheesecake, and she was nice enough to give me one small bite of her Torta Di Ricotta Alla Vaniglia ($15) — vanilla flavored ricotta cheesecake — so I could tell you how delicious it was. Ricotta cheesecake is often a bit dry, but this was super creamy and quite good! Recommended!

We were sad to leave Masseria Dei Vini, where we made some new friends and ate many delicious things. I can’t wait to go back.

Masseria de Vini is located at 887 9th Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets, right next to This Place. Check out the Menu and make a reservation at This Link!

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