Squid ink risotto, prepared Venetian style at All’onda
In the 2013 high-concept culinary high jump, All’onda is sure to be a contender for the gold. The Union Square restaurant, which opens early this month, is the brainstorm of two Michael White empire alumni, former business partner Chris Cannon (Convivio, Alto, Ai Fiori) and former Ai Fiori Chef de Cuisine Chris Jaeckle. The springboard is Venetian cuisine—all’onda denotes a soupy style of risotto that is a Venetian specialty—even though Jaeckle only made his first visit to the city in September (“a quick weekender”).
So that’s the plot. Here’s the thickener: Japan. Cannon and Jaeckle are convinced that there’s a deep connection between La Serenissima and the Land of the Rising Sun. (Jaeckle’s visit to Eataly in Tokyo seems to have been one seed of inspiration.) Cannon is quite definite about the pairing, actually defining All’onda as “Venetian food through a Japanese lens.”
Thus there is a bar snack of edamame dusted with pecorinoromano, chile flakes, and controne (the famous oven-dried hot peppers from Campania), and a tortellini en brodo of parmesan dashi, market vegetables, and ricotta dumplings. The classic Venetian sarde in saor (sardines marinated in vinegar, onions, and pine nuts) turns up crudo style, salted and washed in vinegar. “So much more subtle than the traditional,” says Jaeckle. Folpettilessati (boiled octopus) emerges tataki style with Venice represented by a sprinkling of treviso. As for bigoli, the classic Venetian pasta, no: “It’s wheat pasta, which I don’t enjoy,” he says.
On the drinks side, there are a few sakes, one sake-based cocktail (still being developed at press-time), but otherwise, says Cannon, the cocktail menu will be “derivative of traditional Venetian/Italian cocktails such as the Milano Torino, Bellini, and Sgroppino.”
“It can seem gimmicky to be doing this,” Cannon says without prompting, adding “we’re both responsibly fearful that it could turn out really badly.” That said, neither partner is short on vaulting ambition for the 80-seat restaurant. The goal at All’onda is “to redefine Italian cuisine,” says Jaeckle. He thinks the moment is nigh: “New York is ready to push the envelope.” 22 E. 13th St.