Alexandre Dumas reckoned that white truffles can, "on certain occasions, make women more tender and men more lovable." We would hope so the 'shrooms, imported from Piemonte, Italy, were selling last week for as much as $2,400 per pound. If you're going to throw down for some, you best leave their preparation to the city's top Italian chefs. (Or, better yet, go straight to the source here's our five-point Piemonte Weekend Escape Plan.)
Wait until you hear what these cooks are doing with truffles (hint: it doesn't involve pizza).
Alto's $100 white-truffle lunch, prepared by Scott Conant, features either an agnolotti stuffed with fontina, preserved truffles, and a mixed-meat pure tossed with honshimeji mushroom with fresh truffles shaved on top, or a simple tagliatelle with some butter, Parmesan, and truffles shavings. Why does he think people love the white stuff so much? "The ultimate reason is that truffles are not a flavor but a breath. They fill up your head with their essence."
At A Voce, Andrew Carmellini uses white truffle in a number of dishes: truffle lasagne, a casseruola (ragout) of polenta with wild mushrooms, fried duck eggs, and white truffles; and, his favorite, uovo in ravioli, "an old, old dish from Piemonte" featuring a barely cooked egg in pasta, with truffles shaved over the top.
Carlyle Restaurant's Jim Sakatos offers only a plain risotto, with shavings. "You want to highlight the truffles," he says. "You put too many things in there, and they get in the way."
Terrance Brennan, he of the glorified TV dinner, takes it to another level entirely at Picholine: There are several specials, but if a few morsels don't quench your white-truffle jones, you can actually buy a whole one from the restaurant, drop slivers over your dinner, and then take what's left home with a little shaver.