Machiavelli is a restaurant that transports you from the bustling streets of New York City to Florence, Italy. It is a vision of owner Nathalie De La Fontaine, whose passion and inspiration derive from the extensive time she spent immersing herself in Northern Italy throughout the years, and her combined experience as manager and owner of popular Italian eatery La Focaccia in the West Village for 20 years. To make Machiavelli a reality, she commissioned the work of talented artisans, woodworkers, ceramicists, sculptors and blacksmiths for the art and décor of the restaurant. This includes everything from hand-carved chairs and wrought-iron candelabras to marble-topped tables and a vibrant painted rendering of “The Battle of San Romano,” by Renaissance artist Paolo Uccello.
De La Fontaine is joined by Chef Gian Pietro Ferro, who was born in Bergamo in northern Italy and began cooking there at his uncle’s restaurant at the age of 10. He reimagines classic northern Italian cuisine and creates seasonal, market-driven dishes for the rotating menu with daily specials from various Italian regions. Ferro served as executive chef of Osteria al Doge and head chef of Fiorello’s, where he was praised for bringing revitalized energy into the established restaurant.
To begin this journey, choose from aperitivo, such as fresh, made-to-order crescentines, traditional lightly fried flatbread, and a selection of Italian cheeses and meats. For antipasti, consider Sformato di Spinaci, a creamy and flavorful spinach and ricotta flan nestled beneath a truffle-scented fonduata cheese sauce, and elegantly dressed with swizzles of balsamic vinegar.
The highlight of the Machiavelli menu is the show-stopping handmade pasta dishes, such as Gnocchi Tricolore, made with pillowy gnocchi in spinach, potato and beet renditions, tossed in a golden heirloom tomato sauce that is equal parts zesty and flavorful. The Farfalle Nere al Salmone features farfalle pasta, creatively dyed with squid ink for an eye-catching appearance, tossed with tender Canadian salmon in a creamy pink sauce. The Casunzei “Ampezzani” is a dish taken straight from De La Fontaine’s memory of visiting the Dolomite region of the Alps, made with mezzaluna pasta filled with red beets and ricotta, and coated in a light butter and poppy seed sauce.
For entrées, choose from Pollo alla Chichi, breaded free-range chicken breast served Milanese style with baby arugula, onions and grape tomatoes, or the Petto d’Anatra con Fichi al Moscato, sautéed duck breast prepared with dried figs and a Moscato wine sauce, served with roasted potatoes. The Zuppa di Pesce is a traditional Italian fish stew with mussels, clams, squid, shrimp and scallops in a tomato wine broth. Various traditional vegetable side dishes are also offered, such as Funghi Trifolati, mushrooms sautéed with fresh herbs, garlic and truffle oil.
The menu includes pizza, prepared with a whole-wheat or traditional crust and extra-virgin olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Add various toppings and combinations to create specialties, such as the Machiavelli, with a black truffle cream sauce, mozzarella and wild mushrooms, or the Macellaio with caramelized red onion and Italian sweet sausage.
For dessert, consider the Bongo Bongo, a whipped cream- or gelato-filled cream puff covered with warm Belgian chocolate, or the Budino di Pane con Gelato, a brioche bread pudding with bananas, chocolate, caramel and walnuts, served warm with vanilla gelato.
For an Italian brunch on weekends, consider savory dishes like Uova alla Florentina, poached eggs over fresh spinach, fonduta cheese sauce and crispy polenta cake, or sweet options such as Panettone French Toast al Grand Marnier, sweet Italian bread with candied fruit and raisins topped with an orange Grand Marnier liqueur sauce.
The all-Italian wine list is also one of De La Fontaine’s handpicked creations, carefully curated to offer top-ranking wine selections by the glass and bottle. Selections include Livia Felluga Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli Venezia Giulia and Nebbiolo d’Alba Ochetti by Renato Ratti from Piedmont. Various cocktails named after famous Italian artists are also offered, like the Paolo Uccello, made with Hornitos Reposado Tequila, Solerno blood orange liqueur, and fresh rosemary and thyme. A full bar with quality selections of each type of liquor is also available, as are various local and international beers, grappa and cordials.
The setting and cuisine are enhanced by a resplendent entertainment experience that features musicians and students from nearby Juilliard and Lincoln Center who perform live music nightly and during brunch, and occasional opera.
Machiavelli is located at 519 Columbus Ave., between 85th and 86th streets. MachiavelliNYC.com. 212-724-2658. Hours of Operation: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-midnight, Saturday 9 a.m.-midnight, and Sunday 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Italian Aperitivo Hour Monday-Friday 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Live music during brunch and Sunday-Thursday 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday 8 p.m.-midnight.