- scene: Farmhouse chic in Tribeca; warm candlelight room with country touches
- sip: Wine list is a little pricey, but there are good values to be had
- savor: Chicken Chicken Chicken
- sit: With a date; with your parents and your boyfriend; with your friends that live around the corner and only have the nanny for a few hours
- spend: $$
- address: 134 Reade Street (between Hudson and Greenwich)
- phone number: (212) 941-9401
- website: www.marcforgione.com
If Restaurant Marc Forgione were a movie, it would be a romantic comedy, but a really clever one, by Woody Allen or John Hughes. On the surface, you could think- oh, I have seen this before, I know how this will end. There is a big star involved, thanks to chef Marc Forgione’s win on ” The Next Iron Chef.” The set is vaguely familiar, casual chic that just oozes rustic charm. There are candles lit to add to the romance, and the supporting players of waitstaff all seem ready to make their mark. The menu is your first clue that this is not going to be what you expect, that there is more depth to this seemingly simple formula; the real twist though, comes before the end, the second that you try any of the food here, and you realize that there is real genius behind this cozy front. Once the chicken steals the show, you are already deeply invested in this story.
Farm to table cooking has been a huge trend in NYC dining over the past couple years, along with the locavore movement, blah blah blah. Marc Forgione is a pure example of how good American farm to table cooking can be, without any over the top gimmicks or imposing viewpoints. The menu is easy to navigate, and offers suprising, straight forward fare that is somehow more interesting than at similiarly minded places. The cozy Tribeca location, candles, and large bar make this a great date place, and I believe some tables (inluding the high, communal ones by the bar ) are reserved for walk-ins.
Not to detract from anything, but on our last visit, our waitress was pretty flustered, not very on top of things or with it at all. We asked her for some help narrowing down our delicious options, but then decided that she didn’t inspire enough faith in her to listen to her. Below is a breakdown of our last meal, but it should be noted that dishes do change seasonally. Also, everything offered on the tasting menu is available a la carte as well (take note, Batali, hmphhhhh).
Soft shells crabs- This was an easy appetizer to share, the crab was cut in half; however, this was probably our least favorite dish- the crab was too fried, balanced only slightly but the light and crisp flavors in the sauce; some spice (coriander? cumin?) gave off an Indian aroma, but was not detectable besides from that.
Chili Lobster- This dish is amazing, a real palate buster, full of fire and flavor; the lobster is also broken down in ready to share pieces that are easily removed from their shell; they are floating in a very spicy red broth, anchored by garlicky hunks of bread for dipping; sister said this dish “packs more heat than Lil’ Wayne.” So, there is that…
Chicken for Two- This whole Bell and Evans chicken is extremely moist (eww) and perfectly seasoned; it comes out still sizzling, the little bit of oil foamy with heat; This hot oil keeps the potatoes cooking for a while, making them crispy and soft at the same time; there is great crunch on the skin, as in the fried onions that are thrown on top; I honestly didn’t even try the broccoli rabe because I so obsessed with the chicken. This is definitely a top-notch chicken for two, in competition with its neighbor to the north, Locanda Verde…
The bread pudding is supposed to be amazing, but our waitress was so MIA that just kind of gave up on dessert…Nothing like a cliffhanger to make you excited for the sequel…