In Gothamists continuing search for the perfect Sunday dinner, we ventured into the East Villages Miss Williamsburg Portavia, the sister restaurant of Williamsburgs Miss Williamsburg Diner, and oh was it good. The Williamsburg branch is in a 1940's dining car, pictured above, and we love old diners, certainly for their looks, but mostly for their food. Despite not being in an antique dining car, the East Village branch served up fresh and delicious fare; the restaurant atmosphere was sort of Nouveau NYC meets quaint Southern Italy. It also added that the couple next to us was speaking Italian with the waiter, who, incidentally, was very helpful and recommended the perfect wine for each of our dishes (but then switched them by mistake!). The service was leisurely but not neglectful--Gothamist regretted having to hurry out to catch Six Feet Under and hopes to return soon for a long leisurely dinner.
Gothamists official taster for the evening had the Ultimate Lasagna at dinner, and he described it as "really rich" due to the bechamel sauce, but overall, "not too heavy", and said that the meat was flavorful and "the best part." Too lazy to cook? You can order the lasagna online!
Emiliana Romagna Lasagna
Fresh Lasagna, recipe follows (or be like lazy, lazy Gothamist and use the no-boil stuff from a box)
Bechamel Sauce, recipe follows
Ragu, recipe follows
3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cook the pasta, boiling salted water until just tender, drain and refresh in ice water. Put a thin layer of bechamel in the bottom of a shallow baking dish or a jelly-roll pan. Cover the bechamel with a thin layer of ragu and a little cheese. Top the sauces and cheese with a layer of lasagna noodles. Repeat 6 times ending with a layer of bechamel, ragu and cheese. Bake the lasagne until it is warm at the center and the cheese topping golden brown, about 45 minutes (cover with some aluminum foil if the lasagna browns before it is fully heated).
3 ounces butter
3 ounces all-purpose flour
1 quart milk
Freshly ground nutmeg
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until the mixture is creamy and no longer smells floury. Set the flour mixture (a roux) aside and rinse the pan. Place the milk in the saucepan, add the grated nutmeg and bring to boil over medium-high. Whisk the flour mixture into the milk. Whisk constantly as the sauce returns to a boil and simmer until the sauce thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a spoon. Season the bechamel with salt and reserve it in a water bath until ready to use.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons finely chopped onions
6 tablespoons finely chopped carrots
6 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 pound ground veal
1 cup white wine
1 pound canned or fresh tomatoes (pureed and passed through a strainer)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the veal and brown, breaking up any big chunks of meat. Add the wine, increase the heat and simmer until the pan is once again dry, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover. Bring the sauce to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is deeply flavored and no longer watery, about 4 hours. Season the ragu with salt and pepper and keep warm or refrigerate until ready to use.
1 pound high gluten flour (recommended: 00 flour)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Mix the eggs, salt, and olive oil with 2 tablespoons of water in a mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the flour and mix until the dough comes together then knead the dough using the dough hook until it is smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, combine the flour with the salt and mound in a large bowl or on a clean work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour mound. Combine the wet ingredients in the well then gradually incorporate the flour. When the dough comes together, knead it until it is smooth and elastic.)
Divide the dough in thirds. Roll each sheet of dough through the pasta machine starting at the widest setting then graduating to thinner settings and stopping when the sheets of dough are a medium thickness. Place the sheets of pasta on a lightly floured surface and set aside until ready to use.
Miss Williamsburg, 206 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg (718) 963-8082
Miss Williamsburg Portavia, 228 East 10th Street, East Village (212) 228-5355