Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:05 PM
Just what New York needs. Another excellent rustic Italian place in the Village (on Minetta Lane, in the old La Boheme/Bellavitae space next to the theater).
What can you say about this place? It's very good: with Michael Toscano at the stove, how could it not be? It's not as good Chef Toscano's last place, Manzo, mainly because the menu here is more generic and less region-specific. (It's less interesting than, say, Maialino for the same reason.) Well, it's also not as good as Manzo because the ingredients are less luxe and the cooking is simpler. But it's much cheaper than Manzo -- and the ambiance is a LOT more pleasant (as it couldn't help being).
I began with the pork antipasto of the day, which that day was porchetta with pickled fiddleheads. It's getting stupid. We're now used to excellent house-made cold cuts. So if I don't sound excited about this flawless dish, it isn't the fault of the dish; it's the zeitgeist. (This is the theme of this write-up, if you haven't noticed already.)
My pasta was sort of a dialed-down version of the great Finanziera Toscano made at Manzo. Fewer different body parts, not as finely minced. So a good straightforward pasta dish rather than something to send you into extremes of rapture.
Then, for my secondo, yet another very good duck dish in this New York Year Of The Duck, with nice crisp skin. This may be one of the rare Italian places where the secondi are more interesting than the primi (at least the menu seemed that way).
The cocktails are predictably good. The wine list is limited, but you can work with it.
I think this place stands head and shoulders above Gabe Stullman's other extant places. It's really very good. But you just can't get excited about a place like this at this point. And it's hard to walk past the Minetta Tavern when you're going there.
COMP DISCLOSURE: An amaro I was in no position to drink.