A block away from the pandemonium of Bottega Louie is the cozy and casual Colori Kitchen. Though I’m a fan of both restaurants, when I’m in the mood for Italian and Downtown, I tend to opt for the more accessible Colori. But it’s not just their “hole in the wall” appeal that lures me, there’s also the fresh pasta, the burrata, and the no-corkage fee BYOB policy—a trifecta of trattoria bliss.
The menu at Colori Kitchen is relatively small and refreshingly simple. Chef Luigi Barducci Contessi, Italian born and formerly the executive chef at Ca’ Brea, has created a menu that relies on flavor and quality without too much adornment. The enthusiastic yet no-frills execution is reminiscent of La Buca back before the expansion compromised it.
This burrata appetizer is a good example of the Colori approach. It’s just a few slices of the decadent cheese, garnished with salad and drizzled with olive oil. It’s not overdone or dressed up beyond recognition. Thank goodness because in the case of burrata, the cheese really should stand alone.
Colori makes a good ravioli. The night we went, they had a meat ravioli, filled with pork, chicken and veal (pictured at the top of this post), on special. The large pillows of ravioli were tender and the flavors of the different meats were surprisingly distinct. The mushroom sauce was rich but not overbearing, much like the creamy walnut sauce that covered this Pumpkin Ravioli. The crunch of the walnut pieces added a nice contrast to the soft texture of the pumpkin filling without going into the dreaded pumpkin pie territory. The whole dish had an unexpected lightness.
Ordering calamari steak is always a huge risk. A lot of times it’s chewy and overcooked, but that was not a problem here. This one had a melty quality, and the citrus added a zesty kick to the otherwise even flavor. The salad made it the perfect summer dish.
I’m not much of a risotto fan, but this mushroom risotto, with champignons, shiitakes and porcinis was good and kind of earthy. My dinner companion who ordered it (a.k.a. my mom) complained that it was too al dente for her tastes, but the well-cooked shrimp and mushrooms were a hit.
The Melanzane Parmigana is pretty much what you’d expect, except that the eggplant is grilled, not breaded. The marinara is tangy and the cheese is baked ‘til golden brown.
429 W 8th St, Dowtown
Entrees $14-22, Lunch Specials