Not to take anything away from Mark Ladner’s superb pasta-making abilities or his uncanny way with a lamb neck, but one of the most delectable bites you’ll have at Del Posto arrives at the table well before the antipasti, primi, and secondi. It’s one of the assaggi (or little tastes) the kitchen sends out as a premeal warm-up — a tiny cup of high-octane chicken broth with a featherlight smidgen of masa doing an imitation of a matzo ball. When Ladner was developing the dish, he experimented with polenta balls but couldn’t make them light enough.
Inspiration came from the restaurant’s butcher, Andres Lopez, a Mexican immigrant famous for his family-meal tamales. Lopez is one of several brothers employed by Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, in fact, and in the first part of this video, the whole Lopez clan can be seen making tamales at a real family meal. Then check out part two to see how Lopez handles the masa at Del Posto.