Novita is located a few doors east of South Park Avenue on East 22nd. You step down a couple of steps to enter the restaurant with the main dining area to the left and an alcove dining area directly in front. A long bar occupies the area immediately upon entering.
The main dining area is packed with tables, they are incredibly close together; two people can barely pass simultaneously. The alcove has two banquettes and two tables for two guests. We were seated in the alcove. It has its pluses and minuses. It is a bit less noisy but the quality of service is noticeably lacking, almost an afterthought to the staff. There were several times I needed to look for our server. If you would like to feel that you are part of the vibrant restaurant scene, ask for the main dining room.
For my appetizer I ordered the “Caprese,” one of the specials for the evening, and for my entrée I ordered the “gnocchi con stinco d’agnello” described as gnocchi with slow-braised Jamison Farm lamb shank.
The Caprese contained slices of tomato, a Burrata round that was halved and a sprig of basil. Bottles of Balsamic and Olive oil were brought to the table and I drizzled the salad with each. Visually the kitchen did not seem to care. The Burrata was more hacked in half than sliced, the tomato slices were haphazardly cut and the basil was thrown on top. The Burrata was OK. There was far too much exterior and the creaminess that you desire from the interior was scant. The tomatoes were good, nothing special and the basil was full of flavor.
The gnocchi was delicious. The ricotta gnocchi were soft, well prepared with just a hint of ricotta. They were topped with an incredibly delicious lamb ragu. The meat was tender and rich in flavor and the deep flavors of the lamb was a perfect complement to soft, pillowy texture of the gnocchi. My one complaint was the amount of lamb, it was minimal and I wish there was more.
Service was spotty. I almost felt we were assigned the “kids’ table.” The server checked in rarely and I needed to call for him whenever we needed something since we were out of eyeshot. Overall I enjoyed Novita. The next time I would ask for a table in the main dining area so I do not feel for $75-100 per person we are being punished.