Named for Eolo or Aeolus, the ruler of the wind, this contemporary Sicilian restaurant is unique to New York. According to mythology, Eolo lived on a small volcanic island off the coast of Sicily and was a favorite among the Greek gods. Sicily has always been a cultural crossroads with influences from surrounding areas like Greece and North Africa having a direct impact. Eolo takes these myriad cultural traditions and incorporates them into a modern Sicilian cuisine. “If you travel to Sicily now, you’ll find a range of innovative chefs who are tweaking traditional dishes and using typical Sicilian ingredients to create a new, lighter type of Sicilian cuisine,” notes chef/owner Melissa Muller Daka. “I wanted to introduce New Yorkers to the type of cuisine coming out of Sicilian restaurants today.” Eolo strives to highlight the range and sophistication of Muller Daka’s ancestral heritage while shedding light on the fascinating and diverse culinary landscape of the region.
The décor is warm and welcoming with hand-glazed burnt ochre walls. Sicilian ceramics and antiques lend a rustic touch as do the teak floors. Dark wood tables and Murano pendant lights add a soft intimate glow. In warm weather, a sidewalk patio, surrounded by potted herbs and flowers, seats 23 people.
The “culturally seasonal” menu changes monthly but standouts include Trio Di Pisci(Smoked swordfish, whipped mascarpone, capers, scallions and tomatoes/Tuna tartare with ginger, roasted peppers, black olive paste, and fried leeks/Marinated fresh white anchovy, fennel, citrus segments), house-made pastas such as Ravioli d’Eolo(Broccoli Rabe, fontina and mascarpone stuffed ravioli with spicy lamb sausage, maiitake mushrooms and dried cherries laced with port) and Agneddu alla Griglia (Grilled lamb chops, bulgur tabouleh, garlic mint yogurt and pomegranate molasses). Desserts include Sfinci(Doughnuts with Vanilla-Orange Pastry Cream and a bitter chocolate dipping sauce) and a less intensely sweet version of the classic Cannoli(Hand-filled cannoli cones with ricotta cream, Sicilian pistachios, chocolate & candied orange).
The same care for seasonal ingredients applies to the specialty cocktails. All purees, infusions, and syrups are prepared in-house. Highlights include L’Americana in Sicilia(Port-laced Dried Cherries with Manna, Maker’s Mark, Antica Formula Vermouth) and Finochietto Salvatino(Muddled Lemon and Wild Fennel, Ginger Syrup, Tequila served with a Wild Fennel Powder and Salt Rim). The wine list leans heavily on Sicilian producers but also draws from other coastal Mediterranean areas. The list won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2012.
Here is a great recipe from chef Melissa - Zucca in Agrodulci
1 Sugar Pie or Cheese Pumpkin (not the jack-o-lantern variety) - sub with butternut squash
Vegetable Oil for Frying
2 Cups White Vinegar
1 Cup Honey
1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds, Toasted and Salted
Spice Mixture for Finishing:
1. Peel the pumpkin with a knife and remove all seeds.
2. Cut the pumpkin flesh in segments, approximately 3/4 inch thick and 2 inches wide.
3. Heat oil to coat the bottom of a sauté pan and sear the pumpkin segments on both sides until brown.
4. Remove all excess oil from the pan.
5. Lower the flame and add the vinegar, honey and a about a teaspoon of salt.
6. When the liquid is fully absorbed, the pumpkin should be removed from the stove and refrigerated for later use.
7. Grind the coriander seeds, sea salt and black peppercorn in a spice grinder.
8. Serve the sweet and sour pumpkin cold or at room temperature. Top with pumpkin seeds and sprinkle lightly with the spice mixture.
Eolo - 190 7th Avenue New York, NY 10011 - (646) 225-6606