My Birthday Dinner at Aunt Jake's

Last month I celebrated my birthday dinner with Will and our friends at Aunt Jake's in Little Italy in Manhattan. Aunt Jake's is a relatively new Italian spot that's been on my list of restaurants to try and it was different compared to the older Italian spots in Little Italy.

Aunt Jake's event space was what caught my eye and attention because of their skylight and that the restaurant is lined with wooden panels. The selling point was also that you can customize your pasta with any type or shape and any sauce.

We had a party of 20-25 people, so naturally we decided on a prix-fixe menu to avoid confusion on our end and the restaurant's end. Our prix-fixe menu contained a choice between three appetizers and a choice between three entrees. The event manager was respectful and accommodating to Will's requests for my birthday dinner.

We shared a space with outside customers, so it didn't feel very private or cozy. Our tables were lined up as a communal style and I must admit it was a little squished, not a very pleasant experience. Their drink menu contains mostly wine and a few cocktails. A friend ordered a pitcher of white sangria to share between me and a few friends. I thought the white sangria was watered down especially since there was a lot of ice in the pitcher. My friend also ordered a bottle of Prosecco which I thought was delicate and light.

I tried one of their cocktail: Mulberry. I thought it was mediocre, definitely not the best tasting cocktail I've had. It tasted a little tart in my opinion.

The three appetizers that were listed on our prix-fixe menu were: calamari with sweet roasted red pepper sauce, kale Caesar salad, and Brussels and pancetta. I absolutely loved the calamari even though it was the appetizer I chose for myself, but Will did. The portion size for an appetizer was big which I thought was nice. The calamari was golden and delicious. 

The kale Caesar salad was fresh, crisp, and delicious! One of our friends ordered this for an appetizer and I actually loved it. I got the Brussels and pancetta since it's been a long time since I've had Brussels sprouts. It was buttery delicious and beautifully roasted. Many of my friends enjoyed the appetizers and thought the portion size was generous.

These were two of the three entrees from the Prix- Fixe menu. Will got the Lemon Chicken (thyme, rosemary, garlic, white wine, butter and chili) which was rested on top of a velvety and delicious polenta. Some friends thought the lemon chicken didn't really taste too lemon-like and was a little dry, but the cut of chicken that Will had was moist and delicious.

I ordered the Penne alla vodka sauce. Their version of Penne felt extra thick and dough-like, same texture as gnocchi almost. The pasta here is made fresh, so that's probably why. I felt the portion size of the pasta dishes were a little small and I would have appreciated more sauce to go with the bread. The final dish on the menu was rigatoni with Sunday sauce (house made tomato sauce with short rib, sausage, and veal).

Overall, it was a great birthday dinner mostly because I got to see most of my friends and it was a pleasure to catch up with everyone. The food was on point and delicious. I would come back again during the day time just to see how the space is lit up and etc and also try their other pasta and sauces.


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