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Perfect restaurant for the holidays

Pamela Cortez

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There have been a few buzzworthy restaurant openings in the past few weeks — Cicchetti, run by Alec Santos; Noor, a mediterranean kitchen in BGC, and the first brick-and-mortar space of the folks at Pedro, known for their popular beers. But the opening that is most perfect for the season of fancy gatherings and intimate dinners is the well-hidden Q&A. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot, obscured by a Chinese grocery below and a buzzing hot pot restaurant beside it, is one of this year’s most delicious new builds. Q&A has a menu full of Mediterranean and Italian dishes, most of which are made fresh in-house daily, and are both bold and simple at the same time.

Manila clams, chorizo, chilies, tomatoes and ginger.

The place is dressed in comfortable and inviting luxury which tells you about the type of establishment Q&A is. It is all low light, covered in velvet, but the staff are hip and accommodating, and the room is far from stuffy. The food is highbrow and high quality but never intimidating. Take for example, a duck croquette, one of the most memorable starters on its menu, which uses great ingredients and turns them into an approachable, seriously snackable, bite.

Maltagliati fall-off-the-bone beef brisket bourguignon.

Almost everything on the menu is cooked at this same standard. A skirt steak was super beefy, and cooked properly so it was both soft and toothsome. Three of the specials were so brilliant, that they need a permanent place on Q&A’s repertoire. Red beet gnocchi were soft to the touch, and some of the most impressive dumplings in the city. These little doughy lobes of potato also made its way onto a grilled lamb chop dish and were doused with an unholy amount of parmigiano reggiano. Their chocolate pappardelle had beautifully wide noodles, entrenched in a strong sauce that tasted of wine and braised pork shoulder.

Fiorentini, guanciale, tomatoes and homemade spicy pickled peppers.

Pasta is the specialty at Q&A and even those on the regular menu deliver. A fiorentini dish was unique, with a sauce made only with tomatoes and spicy pickled peppers, that made for a piquant plate that was unlike any other. Maltagliati, cooked the right side of al dente, had a slippery sauce of beef brisket bourguignon that was rich and almost gamey. All of Q&A’s pasta is made in their kitchen, with egg whites instead of water, so that everything is so fresh and indulgent.

Q&A’s Kitchen-style meatballs.

There were a few misses, which I have the responsibility to tell you about so you can avoid them at all cost and have an incredible experience: prawn ravioli in a crab broth had the noodle hard and undercooked and revealed little to no filling. The crabmeat balls on an also undercooked pimiento tagliatelle were oily and mushy, and a starter of Manila clams lacked salt. But because they were more the exception than the norm, I won’t count this against the chef at Q&A, whose hits were phenomenal and erased any faults.

Chocolate pappardelle and braised pork shoulder.

Desserts were fine, especially the ice cream sandwiches and a moreish budino that was both sweet and salty, but it was really the pasta that knocked my socks off. The location and the exceptional cooking here would make Q&A my choice for any holiday dinner plans you might have, especially if you’re open to trying something new. The prices are on the steep side but Q&A’s contemporaries include M Dining Room, Savage and other restaurants of that caliber.

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