Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Aelo
(formerly Caffe Bondi Ristorante)

7 West 20th Street, New York, NY
212-691-8136

Review by Runt Ekwesh

This used to be Caffe Bondi Ristorante, and was well known and appreciated by the locals who -- being New Yorkers -- don't cook and want a nice meal without a lot of expense. There was a change of ownership, but the place doesn't seem to have changed. It doesn't look any different, the food seems to be the same, and the owners still give out cigars when they are in an expansive mood!

There was a club meeting here, and about 40 people attended. It's a small restaurant, but they did a nice job of dealing with us. They initially only set up for 25, but more club members decided they needed a good meal, so they kept having to set up more space, without inconveniencing other diners not associated with us rabble. Not an easy thing to do, being that the place seats about 70 as it is.

They gave us a prix fixe menu (misspelled "Pre Fix" -- wonder why they are using phonetic French in a Sicilian place?), including antipasta, red wine, white wine, cut fruit "for the table," and a choice of:
  • Penne with sauteed eggplane and mushrooms in a spicy tomato cream sauce and fresh ricotta
  • Braised Chicken over roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed haricot verts, Gaeta olives and caper berries
  • Veal Cutlet breaded and topped with grape tomatoes, caper berries and lemon segments with tossed arugula
  • Herb Crusted Atlantic Salmon served over a wild mushroom-pancetta bread pudding, spinach pesto and a mushroom ragout
Again, what's with the French terms? The antipasta was outstanding, by the way, including: grilled peppers, eggplant, and zucchini; fresh mozzarella cheese; sliced salami; bruschetta with extra virgin olice oil, olives and a basalmic reduction. I don't think there was anything left on the communal plates.

Despite the Frenchisms in a Sicilian restaurant, the food was freshly prepared and good, and the service was excellent. They were friendly, they provided a nicely-endowed barwench (who was competent and efficient, in addition to being eye candy), and as mentioned previously, good cigars were passed out by the owner. All up, it cost $40 per person for everything, including wine, etc. Decent deal, and a wonderful evening with friends.

Photo montage courtesy of iSeatz.com.


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