Italian restaurants in New York …
… You have them in all shapes and sizes. I may have suggested it before, but Americans can’t get enough of the kitchen where pasta and pizza come from. You have chic Italian tents like Del Posto in Chelsea and Babbo (where the Pope eats when he’s in New York) in Greenwich Village. You will also find endless pizza places, such as Keste on Bleecker street or Da Mikele in Tribeca, where you can eat the best pizzas for next to nothing. But don’t expect too much from the decor and don’t be surprised if the television is above the bar. Somewhere between the chic and the low key version of Italian cuisine, you will also find a different genre in NY; refined Italian cuisine for a reasonable price, good service, and a beautiful (yet sober) entourage.
Two of my favorites from this genre are L’Artusi and I Sodi, both happen to be in the West Village.
L ‘Artusi was on my list for over a year before it finally happened and that was two weeks ago. (Small note; I had reserved a month in advance via OpenTable, I had tried calling before without luck. If your name is in their system, because you have eaten there before, you will get priority.)
A month after making the reservation, the two of us stand at 5 to 9, looking hopefully at the hostess who immediately accompanies us to our table. From the outside, it is hard to imagine that this place has a nice large restaurant with a huge bar (where many people are eating) that extends all the way to the back where the open kitchen is located. A very friendly waiter brings us the menu and wine list and quickly walks away to get our proseccos while we study the menus. The menu for the food is not large, but every dish seems equally attractive. We choose the carpaccio and asparagus in advance and the ravioli of the day and a branzino for the main.
Choosing the wine is a bit more complicated given that the wine list consisted of a thick book, classified by Italian province. While I have almost finished my prosecco and the person opposite me has already got his iPhone out of boredom, I decide by chance for a dry white Orvieto wine from Umbria. Thank God, the book can be closed and it turns out to have been a good choice not much later!
Just like the food, by the way, the carpaccio is wafer-thin, bright red and so soft that you hardly need to cut it. The asparagus comes with a poached egg and flakes of Parmesan cheese. DELICIOUS!
The main courses do not disappoint either, are fresh and very refined in taste.
Somewhere between the starter and main course, the restaurant gets busier and you can’t believe your eyes. To our left is a bachelorette-like group of ladies dressed up in their strapless dresses talking uncharmingly loud and to the right of our table a couple of whom we can’t agree whether it is a young/creamy mother with her son or an old woman with her younger friend. To be able to enjoy both the food and the atmosphere around us a little longer, we also go for dessert; the hazelnut torta with salted caramel ice cream. Just like the rest of the food, the dessert is delicious, the ice cream fortunately not too salty (I was a bit afraid of that). When we walk outside satisfied and happy, I find myself already planning my next visit to L’Artusi in my head.