As anyone who’s browsed this site knows, the staff of Always Double Back love to eat. We cook and enjoy meals out at modest yet high-quality restaurants. Sometimes, though, we’re moved to splurge a bit. Will just finished a job of proofing/editing the new cookbook by Andrew Carmellini, head chef at A Voce, which in its short life has received three stars from the New York Times and one from the Michelin Guide. Will was so impressed by the recipes and techniques in the book that he secured us a table the other night to check it out in person. He also wisely let slip that he was working on the boss’s book; we arrived on time but had to wait a few minutes for our table, which sent the maitre’d rushing over with apologies and complimentary champagne. I have to say, it was nice getting special treatment, considering that we were by far the poorest and least important people in a very hedge/trust-fundy room.

At our very good table in the quietest corner, a basket of grilled bread and fresh ricotta with olive oil and herbs (again, compliments of the house) appeared with our appetizer of house-made salumi and pickles, all very delicious. This was followed by another appetizer of Tuscan braised tripe topped with a fried duck egg, one of the dishes that had caught Will’s eye in the cookbook. My previous tripe memory was of a sort of tough yet mushy and tasteless organ, and Will had never tried it, so we were both pleasantly surprised by the tender (but not mushy) tripe in a hearty stew made richer with the burst yolk of the egg. Our main dishes of fennel-glazed Long Island duck (mine) and braised beef short ribs (his), sent us both into eye-rolling meat comas, from which we roused ourselves to enjoy a dessert of bombolini, sort of oversized doughnut holes filled with warm custard and served with a dish of chocolate sauce for dipping (another one from the book). We’ll definitely be front and center for Carmellini’s book once it hits the shelves and eager to try our hand at making some of his dishes.