- scene: Bi-level space with a white washed farmhouse, wood floors and candlelight vibe
- sip: speciality cocktails, reasonably priced wine
- savor: meatballs; "the sandwich", pasta
- sit: With your honey; with a group to share lots of dishes; with your parents for an early dinner
- spend: $$
- address: 325 Bowery
- phone number: (212) 220-9100
- website: www.barprimi.com
For the first time in recent and not so recent memory, I found myself in NYC for a spell during the Holidays, as I was not leaving for my holiday until January 4th. Because of when Christmas and New Year’s fell, the city was sleepy for a good ten days, making it a truly glorious place to be. Cabs were plentiful, traffic was non-existent, and seats at hot restaurants were attainable. Manhattan with a third less people than normal is Utopia. I’ve been dying to try Bar Primi since it opened, but the deafening buzz/hype and no-reservation policy made me a little reluctant, so I seized my chance during this time in the sleepy city. It is important to note that I went on a Friday, firstly for the obvious implication that it would be a busy night, but secondly because there are daily specials at Bar Primi, and unbeknownst to me going on a Friday means getting the Bar Primi golden ticket. Boyfriend was already scouting dishes at the bar when I arrived, and he told me without a doubt that we were getting the Friday pasta, the lobster oreganata, and made all sorts of superlative ruminations about good it looked and smelled.
Bar Primi is laid back and cool, with good lighting, a decent sized bar for waiting, and two levels. We ate upstairs, which seemed to be the slightly more formal space, but the tables are pretty tight. I much prefer the top level, if you ever get a choice. Service is casual and knowledgable, proficient and friendly without being outstanding. A drink ordered at the bar was promised to be sent to the table, but 20 minutes later I think it lost its way. Bar Primi is a fun place- the food is real, has some soul, but not meant for fine dining examination, and that is exactly how I like to eat.
We ordered the meatballs, a burata crostini, the famous roast beef sandwich, and the lobster organata. I will describe everything fully, but first, ’bout that pasta; there are dishes that are good, dishes that are great, and dishes that are so good Boyfriend orders another one before you are done with the first. Truth. When the waitress came to check on us and heard our pasta praise, she said that the special is so delicious that there are only two left; without missing a beat, batting an eyelash or any other cliche, Boyfriend sent her scurrying to reserve one of the last two portions. That is a good pasta.
Stuffed Meatballs- Carmellini has ball skills; a veritable D Wade in the kitchen. Anyone who has tasted the lamb meatball sliders at Locanda Verde can attest to these skills, and the fontina stuffed variation at Bar Primi are baller as well. Extra points for the sauce.
Burrata crostini ( I believe this was a special) – the bread was almost not needed on this dish, and it seemed like an after-though as it was a little dry and boring. All of the other ingredients were spot on, especially the creamy burrata which was not too cold ( a pet peeve of mine.)
Roast Beef Sandwich- I will crave this dish; Boyfriend said it is just because I am from New Jersey, which I took to mean qualifies me as a sandwich expert. The meat is tender and juicy, just the way I like , the cheese is gooey and the peppers are hot, with a little crunchy bite from the arugula. Most importantly, the bread can stand up to this sandwich- it soaked up all the juices, held all the meat, and did not get soggy at all.
Lobster Oreganata special- This is linguine, lobster, olive oil, garlic and bread crumbs, and that is about it. It is simple, and it is superb. Although available only on Fridays, I am told that the base of the dish, the part without the lobster, is very similar to the Four Clove linguine which is a menu staple. This dish fires on all cylinders, with deep flavor from the garlic and olive oil, texture from the breadcrumbs, and well, lobster.
My meal at Bar Primi was so good, I felt like I do after a good date, if in this case the suitor was a restaurant. I can not wait to return again, on a Friday, when I am feeling lucky…