Spirito (287 9th St., between Fourth and Fifth Avenues), apparently open less than a week, features
Italian cuisine, with special inspiration from the Veneto region. We tried it this evening and here's a brief recap:
Occupying the space formerly occupied by the cryptically-named, now-deceased "Bistro Futura Moderne," this large space is decorated in Italian tile, stucco and framed photos of the homeland and a strategically placed Italian motorbike (is it a Ducati?). Soon to feature terrace dining on the second level, it also offers the opportunity for al fresco dining in good weather (the French doors in front open to the elements). A bar, which seats at least a dozen, lines the left hand side of the restaurant. Tables, comfortably spaced, seat at least another 40. Kitchen, viewable through a pass-through, is in the rear.
Menu consists of antipasti, pasta, primi piatti and secunda piatti. Each night, a piatti di giorno is offered and the risotto seems to change nightly.
Prices are $6-10 for antipasti, 10-16 for pastas and 12-20 for main courses.
Wines are offered by the glass and by the bottle, along with a full bar. Wine list is 100% Italian and is categorized by region, from Liguria in the North, to Sicily and Sardinia in the South...and every region in between.
Service was attentive and warm. As best as I could tell, the first language of all partners and wait staff is Italian. Our waiter had some difficulty understanding some of our questions and had some difficulty communicating the word "soup" in a fashion we could understand.
antipasti: sauteed mushrooms with polenta and grilled fish marinated and served with shaved beets.
pasta: cavatelli with tomato sauce, chunks of eggplant and freshly-shaved parmesan
primi piatti: bacala
The mushrooms were moist and well-seasoned. As best as I could tell, they were mostly criminis (baby portabellas). If there were other mushroom varieties in there, I couldn't find any. The polenta was done just right: firmly adherent, yet not dry. The fish appetizer was served warm (I thought it might be more tasty served hot) and the shaved beets excellent. You'll want to wipe your plate with some bread after finishing this one.
The sauce on the cavatelli was fresh and a bit piquant. Chunks of eggplant abounded. Served with freshly shaved parmesan.
The bacala was done well and was abundant. I think the bacala appetizer at Al di La edges this one by a bit.
Dinner for three, with two glasses of wine and a side of grilled veggies, was $90 before tip.
There is no need to offer the caveat regarding making judgments on newly-opened restaurants: the partners here are restaurant pros and very few, if any glitches were detected on this early visit.
Location is a ?...can a fine restaurant do well next to the Post Office, off the Fifth and Seventh Ave. centers of activity? I guess they're banking on the future of Fourth Ave., a future that seems to insure yet more development, foot and auto traffic.
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