21 December 2011


I was so excited to try this place out. It's on nearly every 2011 'best new york restaurant' list and, only a few weeks ago, I'd heard Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli talk about it as one of their favorite winter-time restaurants. When I walked in, I understood why: although the dining room is large and a bit spare, the dark reds and browns and exposed brick walls help create a warm and inviting space that doesn't feel at all pretentious.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the food. Nothing was bad, and the grilled octopus appetizer (served on top of a warm potato, celery and smoked olive salad) was possibly the best octopus I've ever had: it very literally melted in my mouth like butter. But everything else was just good. The ribollita - a hearty italian vegetable stew - was perfect for the cold december evening, but nothing to write home about. I think I like my mom's ribollita better. And the cacciucco - with shrimp, mussels, bass and clams - was a little too bland, and a little to small, to be worth $32. I'll admit, I didn't order the dishes that the place is really known for. I hardly ever eat red meat, but my friends tell me that the veal and ricotta meatballs and pappardelle with wild boar and chestnuts were fantastic. And every dessert that I saw come out of the kitchen looked delicious (pictured above: apple cider donuts with apple compote and maple cream).

I'm glad that I came, but I'm in no rush to hurry back. Everything was good, and the atmosphere was lovely, but all in all probably not worth the price we paid for it. On the other hand, if you're a big meat eater, I'd recommend it in a second.

403 E 12th St (nr 1st Ave)

  grilled octopus
  veal and ricotta meatballs

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