“I. Need. Pancakes.” This was the first thought that popped into my head when I woke up on a recent Sunday morning. I was craving something sweet, and needed to soak up the alcohol from the night before. What had started off as a cozy night in had ended as a bit of a crazy night out, thanks to my ‘Noles suffering their first regular season loss in over three years to Georgia Tech (still love ‘em, though!).
As a result, we wanted to stick close to home for brunch. Did I forget to mention we live in the heart of Midtown, which is basically a Bitch’s nightmare? This area of Manhattan is made up of Chipotles, overpriced New York diners and delis, and gross restaurant chains. Essentially a brunch-barren wasteland. We circled the neighborhood, walking up 57th, down Broadway, and back down 55th until we came back to 6th Avenue. No pancakes in sight. We were about to give up, go home, and pout over a bowl of cereal, when we stumbled upon Pazza Notte.
Pazza Notte is an Italian bistro across the street from our apartment; I’ve probably walked by it countless times, and never paid it any mind because I chalked it up as another Midtown tourist trap. But as you can probably tell, this Bitch was desperate for brunch. I saw French toast was on their menu, which was close enough to pancakes for me. Sold!
We were seated at a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking the bustling New York City street. The restaurant was filled with tons of natural light, and had a rustic, Italian feel. Specials were handwritten on the large mirrors that took up both sides of the restaurant, and a wood-burning pizza oven was lit up in the corner.
Pazza Notte offers a Champagne Brunch – $18 gets you your choice of one brunch cocktail and one entree. You can order an additional cocktail for just $5! Brunch for less than $20?! Not a bad deal at all, especially for this area of Manhattan. There are 11 cocktails to choose from, and seven entrees. I wish it had been the other way around; if I hadn’t had my heart set on a certain brunch dish, I would have found their selections to be a bit limited.
To start off our meal, we opted for the truffled Bloody Mary and the blood orange mimosa. Believe it or not, the Bloody Mary was for my boyfriend Fields; I was in the mood for a sweet cocktail this go-around. The blood orange mimosa was very good. Not too sweet, but not too bubbly. It was the perfect balance.
Fields enjoyed his Bloody made with truffle oil at first, but as the meal went on, he mentioned he thought it was a great concept that failed to be executed properly. The truffle oil ended up being overpowering, and he basically smelled like the fragrant fungi for the rest of the day. Which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world …
For our entrees, we once again went total opposite routes. I went with the maple crusted French toast, while Fields decided to try the penne vodka with prosciutto. The French toast was out-of-this-world! I could not have been more surprised, as I was not expecting the food at this Midtown resto to be amazing. It was honestly some of the best French toast I’ve ever had.
The dish consisted of two pieces of French toast, placed on top of one another with a layer of marscapone in between. It was topped with what I believe were corn flakes, which were then bruleed with maple syrup. This was a welcome spin on your typical French toast, as it gave a crunch to the outside and left the inside soft and sweet.
The penne vodka with prosciutto was also much better than anticipated. The dish consisted of penne pasta, served with diced tomatoes, asparagus, and prosciutto, all topped with vodka sauce. Fields said the vodka sauce was absolutely delicious, and he could tell it was made in-house. He remarked that the hearty chunks of prosciutto scattered throughout the penne reminded him of the thick cuts of ham his family carves every Christmas. He scarfed down the whole plate!
The Bitches say: Four Champagne flutes. If you’re looking for a good, reasonably priced brunch spot in Midtown, Pazza Notte is a hidden gem, nestled among a sea of overpriced restaurants. While their entrees were quite delicious, we wish their brunch menu had been a bit more expansive.
Pazza Notte serves Champagne Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.