Walking into Trattoria Machiavelli kind of feels like walking into an alternate universe. One in which museums are filled with lively music and all kinds of food that ordinarily would never be allowed within five miles of a famous painting. Indeed, if you’re looking for a conventional dining experience, this is not the place to go. I, however, happen to love art, music, and Italian food, so it was pretty much a perfect storm of a Friday night for me.
Machiavelli is an authentic Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side. So authentic that the pasta is hand-made fresh on the premises—you can actually watch them roll it in a pasta room behind the bar if you’d like (oh, how I wish I had known this before I went).
The food, however, while good, plays second fiddle to the ambiance of the place, as you may have guessed from my intro. Not only do they have daily performances of classical and/or jazz music; the walls—oh the walls—well, distinct from most, which are covered in paint, the walls at Machiavelli are covered in paintings. Beautiful Italian Renaissance paintings. Put that together with the black and white checkered floors, the ornate wooden bar chairs, and the wrought iron gate leading into the bathroom and you’ve got yourself quite the atmosphere.
The restaurant offers a variety of musical events, including jazz brunch and concert series. Even if you go for regular old dinner though you’re in for a lively evening. My sister and I could barely hear each other over the piano-playing! No, I’m kidding, we could hear each other fine. I’m just embellishing for dramatic effect.
Food-wise, we both went for the Gnocchi Tricolore because we both happen to love gnocchi and neither one of us could pass up the opportunity to try one made of spinach, potato, AND beet. It was different and good. So different and good we probably each could have eaten another helping, but because we had already split two appetizers we decided that would be gluttonous. For appetizers, we went with sautéed shrimp and cannellini beans, and a salad of arugula, gorgonzola, and bosc pears. It made for a good variety of food groups.
The best part of the meal though, I have to say was the Aperol Spritz I ordered. It was a completely appropriate drink choice given the scene and cuisine, but beyond that Machiavelli makes a great one. Perfect combination of Aperol and sparkling wine; in an oversize wine glass; and of course garnished with an orange slice and a straw. Just the way the Aperol Spritz is meant to be. My Italian mother would have given it her stamp of approval.
If you’re looking to expand your dining horizons, Trattoria Machiavelli is located on 519 Columbus Avenue (on the corner of 85th Street). If you want to check it out on a particularly lively night, in turn, consider attending their Great Gatsby themed costume party on October 31st! Tickets can be found on their website.
By: Reagan Daly
p.s. here’s the time Jess dined at Machiavelli for brunch!