Well I guess as is quite often the case it depends what you are looking for and sometimes its what comes looking for you and on this evening, it was just amazingly good food.
L'Artusi sits on W10th between Bleecker and Hudson in the Village.
An interesting place with darkened windows that you would walk past without knowing that inside there is a fab restaurant on two levels, with amazing food, fabulously friendly service, with an interesting wine list that is delivered by regions reflecting Italy, with way too many bottles in triple digit prices as probably my only real criticism.
The menu is broken out into four sections that represent appetisers, pasta, fish and some mains.
We chose to dine in my particular fashion, which was to share plates and graze.
We ordered 4 plates and the first two that arrived excelled.
A simple wagyu beef carpaccio, beautifully marbled, expertly sliced, with a lovely dressing of olive oil and a very light horseradish cream, with a sprinkling mix of extremely finely diced scallions which provide some nice textural difference and even more so the crunchy tiny pieces of crispbread.
We received that dish at the same time as an heirloom tomato salad with a variety of both beefsteaks and cherry tomatoes and cubes of watermelon, with crispy croutons and pieces of basil leaf, drizzled with a very tasty first press EVOO, all sitting on what I initially believed to be slices of toasted bread. Surprise, its slabs of nicely braised pork belly that one assumes has then crisped up to provide another layer of texture and taste. Sweet tomatoes, salty delicious pork belly, sweet watermelon cubes.... there I was thinking it would be nice to have burrata with my heirloom tomato sald and instead I get blown out of the water by a totally unexpected combo.
Next up was the bucatini with a pomodoro sauce with crispy pancetta.
I love bucatini and its not served in restaurants as often as I would like to see, so we had to have it and what a joy of beautiful al-dente goodness served with a nicely reduced, slightly spicy tomato sauce with just the right amount of diced crispy pancetta and onions.
Thus far we were doing so well, I was getting concerned. The Barbera we had ordered, a wonderful red chosen by my dining companion was an excellent complement and we didn't have to wait long before our final dish was delivered.
A very nice medium rare flat-iron steak, sliced into chunks of perfectness, served with oven roasted potatoes (almost roast potato heaven) and a new condiment for me in their salsa bianco. On first blush, I had thought maybe it was that beautiful ricotta that they had served us at the very start of the meal with salty brown soft crackers; however it was a mixture of creme fraiche, horseradish, finely diced pickled shallots and salt, that was the perfect accompaniment to those sublimely fabulous roast potatoes.
The combination is just an amazingly good one that had us thrillled and truly impressed.
Again what a wonderful combination.
We decided not to have dessert despite the very attractive choices; however we were delivered a single scoop of an intensely flavoured lemon gelato with an amaretto cookie that had aspects of a chewy macaroon; yet still cookie like, providing a lovely finish.
Eating out with regularly, its pretty easy for one's palate to get jaded; however the choices at L'Artusi as simple as they seem are so well executed, and delivered with such poise that their simple elegance, as served will speak very clearly for themselves. It didn't harm the overall experience to have wonderful service delivered by a young pleasant part time dancer that served us.
This place receives 4.5 forks out of 5! Why not 5, you might ask, quite simply they need to offer more well priced wines, rather than the large number of triple digit dollar bottles on offer.
228 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014