The other night was springey and breezey, like a good fabric softener. Clunk! Anyways, it was time to dine by a large window or outdoors, as is common springtime in the city. So whilst strolling in the east village, the restaurant was chosen by such criteria: Window! Check. Evening air? Check. And lo and behold and nevertheless, the food was quite good! (SUPPLIES!!!!!, they shouted with glee.)
(I had trouble remembering the name of the restaurant when I got home. I kept thinking "Mongo" but you go try searching on the interweb with "Mongo" and "italian restaurant" and see how far you get. It doesn't even sound Italian. It sounds like a silly British word, a cross between bongo and mung bean or something rather ridiculous. But it was easy to find the right name ==> MOSTO. Which according to my handy translating widget thing means MUST in Italian and makes much more sense. Because who the hell would name a restaurant Mongo. Yes, maybe me.)
The Mosto Osteria (osteria is the equivalent of French bistro?) is airy with varied lightings to suit your moods, and it transports you a bit out of New York. Or maybe I'm projecting. But the waitstaff speaks Italian, and they serve tap water in bottles and have wine available in half-liter carafes and play euro-hip thumpy music which, while not really my cup of tea, keeps up a sort of energetic vibe.
We opted to skip the appetizer and instead went for a pasta each and a shared entrée, so we got that real multi-course sort of feel. I suppose I wasn't expecting much because Italian food in the city, it can go this way or that. But I was very pleasantly surprised with my spaghetti alle vongole. The pasta was firm and the dish well balanced, not too oily or garlicky. And ... so many clams!!! Don't they look happy all empty of their meats? My face was just as happy and bright too, especially after sopping up the lovely juices with some crusty bread.
Continuing our delight with containers, Mosh was taken with the fact that the parmesan came in a big mug. Her penne all'arrabbiata was also top-notch, the sauce being all robust and kicky. Our shared entrée was Gamberoni Grigliati con Crostino (at least according to menupages), which the dude made me say once more (with feeling!) because I was being all tentative with the Italian. The grilled shrimp (prawn? what's the difference?) were seasoned well and served with these fabulous tomatoes over toasted bread, which made for nice textures. They were just super tomato-ey. Mosh and I spent a good few minutes discussing whether they were treated with some sort of tomato sauce or something because I couldn't conceive of these as just really good fresh tomatoes (because where do they get them and I want some). I hope they were...But I suspect not... On the side, a lightly dressed salad of greens and a buttery dome of basil couscous and yum!
After that, we were stuffed like gobble-gobble so we had to say no to dessert even though the server was pressing the panna cotta. This means I'll have to go back soon to try their desserts, because you see, desserts and me, we have a relationship. The prices were pretty decent for the quality/quantity, especially if you stick to one main dish. Hoo-ray for eating! And Hoo-ray for chancing upon places to eat! I'm putting Mosto on my imaginary list of places to go back to and Mongo on my imaginary list of idiosyncratic restaurant names.