Dad was passing through the city for one night only (and we were both exhausted from traveling) so a cozy dinner in Flatiron seemed it might do just the trick. A bustling gem tucked off of Park Avenue, Covina is attached to the Park South Hotel, which has also been a hit this summer for its hotspot rooftop bar.

To start we shared the Wood Grilled Gulf Shrimp with polenta, smoked Oaxacan pasilla chile sauce and cilantro. This appetizer portion was quite hearty, plenty for one person as a light entrée, if you ask me. The polenta was super creamy, but balanced nicely by the chili sauce and spices that coated each shrimp.

I couldn’t resist my intrigue for the Spring Asparagus “Cacio e Pepe,” which was shaved asparagus ribbons carefully positioned with the perfect amount of pepper and Pecorino Romano. An interesting take on the Roman pasta preparation, though I wouldn’t call it a fair comparison. Diet cacio e pepe, if you will.

As we launched into dinner, a bottle of my favorite Sicilian Frappato, Occhipinti Frappato 2013, was definitely in order. A very light variation on this freshly acidic varietal, I have a soft spot for this wine after visiting the wine maker back in 2014. With a great balance and concentration of flavor, this is a red that really goes with just about anything. It’s also great for summer drinking when I rarely want anything to heavy or tannic. Needless to say, having Occhipinti Frappato and Ariana’s SP68 blend on a wine menu makes Covina an instant favorite in my book.

It was hard to decide on just two entrees, but still quite hungry we landed first on the Wood Grilled Lamb Kofte Skewer with charred garlic yogurt, parsley and sumac. The lamb, perfectly seasoned, lay atop a bed of onions, full leaves of parsley and the potent yogurt sauce. A deconstructed pita, of sorts, I think the yogurt could have used a touch less garlic.

The whole daily fish was a Dorade, which just sounded to delicious to dismiss. Served bone-in with white root puree and a celery salsa verde that I could eat on a Turkish towel, the fish was perfectly cooked and fell right off the bone. Speaking of bones, it was so expertly prepared that the bones were a non-issue and hardly got in the way at all. One of my favorite fish to eat, this was beautifully prepared and kept with the char-grilled theme that runs through Covina’s entire menu.

Last but not least, we had to get the Malted Milk Ice Cream with White Chocolate Crunch, Roasted Cherries and Almond Granita. Let’s be honest, every lick of that was most enjoyable.

Cozy booths, a few big round tables, and a long, warmly lit bar, this goes far beyond your typical hotel-affiliated restaurant. The service was markedly friendly, and not overbearing (even when we lingered with our wine much longer than we could have anticipated coming into it…). My only regret is having not tried a pizza! Until next time, Covina…