L’Artusi…L’ove it

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Pants at a Glance
  • scene: cozy and vibrant at the same time; dark walls with contrasting white bar seating that literally highlights the food show; quite noisy, nosey, so don't creep your neighbors' convo
  • sip: White Lambrusco; huge, slightly intimidatingly sized wine list, but plenty of delicious offerings for decent prices; staff is knowledgable and happy to assist with a selection;
  • savor: mushrooms with fried egg; spaghetti with chiles, ramps, and breadcrumbs; brussel sprouts; olive oil cake
  • sit: with someone who likes to share food; a date; not recommended for anyone who will dishing up a side of gossip, the tables are pretty close together
  • spend: $$
  • address: 228 West 10th Street (between Bleecker and Hudson)
  • phone number: (212) 255-5757
  • website: www.lartusi.com

L’Artusi has been around for a few years, but has really settled into its place in the NYC dining scene as a true star. When it first opened, there was an extreme amount of hype (Joe Campanale is dreamy), and a few attempts at a reservation left me uninterested in a 10pm dining time. I held my own mini-protest and L’artusi fell off my radar until most of the initial hype had died down. Like a guy you won’t know if you like until you actually go out with him, no matter what your friends say, after several visits I can admit that now I am 100% in love with L’Artusi.

The atmosphere is perfect for the West Village- a mix of a cool buzzy place and a neighborhood joint that is completely organic and not contrived.  The real action is downstairs, which features  a  large bar where you can dine and watch the kitchen, as well as cozy tables and banquettes. The noise downstairs is almost deafening, but I really can’t imagine a better place to perch at the bar to eat (and drink). Upstairs is slightly removed from the action in the kitchen, but is pleasant none the less, not Siberia-like.  There is also a great private room.  Enough about that, let’s get to the food.  L’artusi offers high-quality Italian ingredients done in simple interpretations to maximize their flavors.  There are no “typical” Italian dishes, but the combinations are both familiar and exciting.

There are several crudos available to start the meal, our favorite being the escolar.  Featuring avocados and chiles, it is a light and fresh way to begin, bursting with flavor and enough texture to keep it interesting  (just call him Pablo, ha ha). The absolute best dish at L’Artusi and one of the Pants All Star faves are the roasted mushrooms. This dish is an ingenious example of how seemingly simple preparation and ingredients can create something magical.  The roasted mushrooms are tossed with pancetta, covered with two fried eggs and sprinkled with ricotta salata.  The earthiness of the mushrooms, the saltiness of the cheese and the richness of the egg create a Flavor Present from the Food Gods. My mouth is watering at the memory…

The pastas are all cooked perfectly, and we have tried almost all of them.  Our favorites are the spaghetti with garlic, parmesan and chiles; the bucatini with tomato, pancetta and pecorin0 (similar to an Amatriciana, really clean and spicy); the tagliatelle witth bolognese bianco (definitely the best interpretation of this dish that we have ever tried); and of course the famous orrechiete with sausage, salami and raddichio. The meat in this dish is cradled by the shape of the pasta, creating amazing combinations of salty protein and cheese and velvety, firm pasta in every bite.  Don’t let the decadence of two meats scare you- you deserve as much meat as possible!

Speaking of meat, there are several mouth-watering options at L’Artusi.  Our favorites include the smokey pork chop (this thing looks like a piece of steak), and the rich and deep chicken.  In case we haven’t made L’Artusi blush enough, we have reserved some praise for  their desserts, specifically the olive oil cake.  This moist (eww, moist) and spongy dish soaks up all of the sweeter flavors that accompany it, and is the perfect alternative from any chocolate decadence.

L’et us l’eave no doubt in your mind that L’Artusi is the kind of restaurant that makes us feel so happy and spoiled to live in NYC, the only city that is   l’ucky enough to have such a serious foodie destination that is not too pretentious for the locals.

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