Midway between Broadway and 7th Avenue on West 51st, Azalea is an intimate space whose décor combines the warmth of lovely wood floors, wood lined walls and high ceilings with eclectic wire accents and lighting throughout. The curved wood bar is the focal point upon entering this intimate eatery.
Cheerful azalea framed images embellish the walls throughout this open-spaced restaurant, with special accoutrements such as the floral shaped ceiling fans. A relaxed atmosphere fills this special place amidst the mood music of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles.
We were greeted by a friendly staff and their attention and service throughout our meal was impeccable. Our little crowd loves Italian food, so there was no doubt that the odds were in our favor for enjoying a good meal. However, being of Italian decent, we can also be harsh critics when dining out for Italian. The verdict was in at first bite at this theatre district restaurant - a thumbs up!
Since we were all hungry, but also knew we wanted to indulge in dessert, we decided to order an appetizer for the table, rather than individual dishes. The kids are big fans of fried calamari, so it was a unanimous choice. Delicately battered and fried, it was not in the least bit greasy, but had the right amount of crunch and was accompanied with a rich and fresh, mildly spicy tomato sauce, which was also used by the kids as a dip for the bread.
Gianna ordered her usual and absolute favorite - Gnocchi. This dish was served with chunks of fresh mozzarella and fresh cherry tomatoes. A generous portion, she did not finish it all, leaving it to "Mom" to "pick" on the leftovers.
Among the specials were two pasta dishes - Meat Lasagna and Fettuccini with Sea Scallops. My carnivorous nephew Nolan decided on the Meat Lasangna.
It looked unbelievably delicious. Nolan told me that the ground meat was cooked just right and the pasta noodles were thin and fresh, and although it was a very generous portion, he said it was light tasting, especially the tomato sauce.
I snagged one of Gianna’s gnocchi with a nice chunk of mozzarella and it had just the right consistency - not too hard, not too soft.
I ordered the spinach ravioli, which was homemade - filled to perfection with the right amount of ricotta-spinach mixture in these homemade pasta pillows! Kelsey, who never tries anything (but does enjoy plain, cheese ravioli), asked if she could taste the spinach ravioli as I was eating! This is a kid who will not eat anything green!
Something about them just appealed to her and she decided to taste them without the usual coaxing and begging. After one bite - she was in love!! I had mixed feelings, in the end - she tried a new food which was fantastic, but now, I had to share my dish with her, which by the way was the lightest spinach ravioli I have ever eaten!
We wound up switching and I finished off her linguine, which was perfectly al dente.
Our meal was not ending without some sweetness! All three kiddies ordered the Tortino de Chocolato. It was a little sweeter than Kelsey and the other kids had expected, but it was fine for my adult tastebuds (of course I tasted it!). I ordered one of my all-time faves - Tiramisu and it was heavenly.
As New York restaurant prices go, Azalea is reasonable and on par with others in the theatre district.
Thanks Azalea for a great meal to start off a great New York City day!