L'Artusi threw Grazor a delicious curve with its tomato salad. Beneath sweet heirloom tomatoes, basil, cubes of watermelon, and a drizzle of very good extra-virgin olive oil lay a foundation of what looked like toasted bread—but wait, that was actually pork belly, braised to a crisp, lending the dish surprising richness and texture. Grazor was "blown out of the water by a totally unexpected combo," just one highlight of a gorgeous end-of-summer meal that suggests L'Artusi, opened three years ago by the owners of nearby Dell'Anima, is in top form.
Almost as good as the salad was carpaccio of Wagyu beef, beautifully marbled and expertly sliced, dressed with olive oil and light horseradish cream and sprinkled with minced scallion. Next came bucatini—"a joy of beautiful al dente goodness" with slightly spicy tomato sauce, onions, and crispy diced pancetta—and finally a flatiron steak, nicely done medium-rare and served in slices with "sublimely fabulous" roasted potatoes and salsa bianco (crème fraîche, horseradish, pickled shallot). The combination was "an amazingly good one that had us thrilled," Grazor says. He faults only the wine list, deep in interesting choices from all over the Italian map, but with "way too many bottles in triple-digit prices." "Eating out regularly," he adds, "it's 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."
L'Artusi [West Village]
228 W. 10th Street (between Hudson and Bleecker streets), Manhattan
Discuss: Good times in the Village