The path to A Voce is slightly daunting: a rush-hour jam-packed subway ride, up three levels amid a sprawling selection of shops, and then down a dark hallway. If you find this stuff intimidating…go anyway.
Ann Arbor does restaurant week, but I’ve been aching to experience New York restaurant week for years. And this time, I finally got around to it.
This restaurant serves burrata with the bread basket, rather than butter. It was life changing. The cheese was so creamy, so rich, so flavorful, dripping with olive oil — all paired with perfect crunchy bread. Eating alone means I have it all to myself! You better believe I loaded up on that burrata.
The first course of Crudo”Alla Puttanesca” was marvelous. The salmon was fresh, without being fishy. Cool, without feeling frozen. And the capers added a great salty kick to it.
My main was the Maiale (pork loin). Hands down, one of the best pork dishes I’ve had in a restaurant, ever. Pink. Tender. Crunchy on the outside. Flavorful. The sauce was divine and not overpowering. I intensely dislike pumpkin and mushrooms, but somehow, even those were breathtaking. My mom will be thrilled and shocked to hear that I finished my mushrooms this time around. And I could not be happier.
My dessert was the peanut butter semifreddo. (It sounds awfully sweet, but the other option was coconut panna cotta, and I loathe coconuts.)
I felt like I was eating a Reese’s peanut butter cup in ice cream cake form. No complaints! But it was a good thing I had a frothy cappuccino on hand to balance it out.
I was seated in the middle of the restaurant, facing the large window overlooking Columbus Circle. In the evening light, it was a beautiful view. I want to believe that I was also a beautiful view, since the waiters were extraordinarily attentive to me. I was asked multiple times each course if I enjoyed the food. My glasses were refilled very quickly.
But the reality is that they probably pitied me.
Which they shouldn’t. Eating alone is one of life’s greatest underrated pleasures. There’s a fear that the other diners are judging you — which they really are not. When I’m out, I cannot help but observe other customers; one of my favorite things is to pick out the tables of first dates, and evaluate how the date is going.
Despite all that nosiness, I have never seen a table of one and pitied the diner. In fact, I often see that one diner and feel inspired, like “Why don’t I do that more?”
Being able to enjoy a delicious meal by myself felt like an oasis in my week. There are many times where I find myself alone during the day (mainly, while reading for class), but making dinner reservations and traveling to dinner makes it more meaningful and more exciting. Taking this time for yourself in the middle of the week is highly therapeutic. While the meal goes by quicker than it would if there were company to distract you with conversation, a solo dinner date is refreshing and calming. You get to savor each bite in your own world.
There is be an independence argument to be made here, that while woman are fighting for equal pay, respect, and basic bodily rights, we still feel a need to prove to the outside world, full of people we don’t know, that we have companions of some sort in our lives. And we don’t need to, because no one looks at a man eating alone and think him forlorn and without options in life.
But, that is an issue for another time. For now: everyone, go and try A Voce.