If artful cuisine served in sleek yet homey ambiance appeals, it would be sinful to miss Envy, a chic pearl on Prinsengracht, honored for the sixth consecutive year by Michelin. You're not likely to commit gluttony at this Italian deli-inspired tapas bistro, unless you opt for a tasting menu by award-winning Chef Michael Wolf. Starring such delicacies as pig cheeks and lacquered eel, plus cold dishes, deli meats, cheeses and desserts, these feasts are great for special splurges.
In Envy's narrow interior, a world of food preparation opens, with chefs preparing culinary masterpieces in full view of diners. Perched on high stools at a long wooden table, we lusted after sausages, cheeses, oysters, jams and wines showcased in 26 oak-finished refrigerators with gleaming chrome handles. While nothing is for sale besides menu offerings, the display inspired us to dive into Dutch raw oysters served with a shot of shallot vinegar and lemon garnish. A selection of Dutch sausages followed, seasoned with wine-preserved garlic, rosemary, lavender, black pepper, chili and fennel.
The Envy concept came to owner Bert van der Leden after he visited many Roman delicatessens that offer samples of their products. In that tradition, Envy proudly serves sausages by Brandt & Levie, run by three former chefs who traveled around Italy searching for the best meat shops' secrets. The chefs-turned-butchers now make their own sausages just outside Amsterdam, using Dutch pigs and fine herbs.