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Restaurants & Bars

Civetta Review

Simon | Jul 27, 200910:07 AM     2

Tried this place on Friday, one week after they'd opened.

The basic deal here: it seems to be shooting to be a younger-vibed Italian version of Balthazar...they generally succeed, though i wasn't wowed by anything we tried.

We sat at the bar (party of two). The staff are friendly, upbeat, and professional. Everyone from the hostess to the excellent bartender made a good impression.

My dining companion had two cocktails, the first a concoction of fine tequila and honey, the second a mix of fresh juices and vodka and champagne: both were masterful and delicious...i had three glasses of wine, and tried sips of a total of seven...the best of the bunch for my personal taste was a Friuli red (as well as an odd barnyardy Calabrian red i had a sip of but which might not be to everyone's liking)...the list is heavy on Tuscany and, secondly, Friuli...my personal preference in Italian wine tends to run to the south, particularly Campagna, but it was still fun tasting the Norhtern and Central options here...a perusal of the list by the bottle yielded bottles from the 40's up to several 300+ Tuscans (and a few things up to 2200)...

Food: we tried four antipasti:

-- arancini w/ sausage/fontina/peas...eh...these were filling barfood, but you might be disappointed if you expect hearty homestyle arancini...the rice balls are about golfball size, w/ a crisp (deepfried? baked?) outershell...sausage is almost non-existent...imagine a well-executed fastfood version of arancini...

-- baked eggplant and peach w/ mozzarella...this is novel enough...but startlingly, after a couple bites, the combo of cooked eggplant&peach begins to taste a bit like sweet potato!...

-- shaved octopus w/ guancile (sp?) and celery...as with the other dishes, good but not great...the shaving of the octopus seems like a way to simultaneously lower cost and reduce risk of rubberiness...the guancilie (pork cheek) is a nice touch (as i eat a lot of Spanish food, i'm usually happy w/ a combo of shellfish and pork), but over the course of the dish, begins to feel a bit greasy (i.e. celery slathered in a light coating of pork fat)...not bad, but i like some of the other octopus dishes around town a bit better (particularly the version w/ fennel at Cacio e Vino)...

-- marinated raw tuna w/ almonds...imagine an Italian version of zuke-maguro...liked the almond texture...tuna was good quality...

My conclusion on the food: i'd give all the dishes no lower than B- and no higher than a B+...the combinations of ingredients were interesting and pleasant but just a little short of inspired...everything was yummy enough as bar food, but there wasn't a dish i'd rush back to order again...

Total cost: four antipasti w/ 2 drinks and 3 glasses of wine, w/ 20% tip: 150 dollars...

We didn't try any of the pastas or entrees so i can't review them, but the prices (as others have noted in a diff thread) seem a bit high (i think the fish dish is 32 dollars, pastas in the 20's)...

On the way out, the hostess suggested we check out the downstairs lounge, which is a comfy space and was 3/4 full at 9:30 and seems like a success in the making...

Overall: i think this place will do well, and i'll prob return to try another dish or two at the bar and/or go to the lounge for drinks...but i wasn't impressed enough by the food to justify the prices nor did i feel excited to go back for a full multi-course meal...for example: a few weeks ago i took a buddy to Scarpetta for his bday dinner: the cost w/ tip for two soups, a yellowtail crudo, a split order of the black cod, four glasses of wine and one dessert was 170...a better deal w/ better food...or for another comparison, a three person meal i had at Malatesta, w/ three starters, one pasta, two entrees, a great bottle of Greco di Tufo, and one tiramiso was also about 170...

Unfortunately they were out of the seafood fritto misto the night i went to Civetta, so i'll def be back to try that out, and will report back...interested to hear what other people have tried and their impressions...

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