Wednesday, 13 March 2013

New York Restaurant Review: L'Artusi

We all know in London that the best restaurants aren't those with Neon signs outside, but are subtle, unpresuming and darn good inside. In New York, the great places throw you off as they have these 'lean-to' type door frames outside (to keep the cold out). They can also throw you off.

One such place is downtown Greenwich Village, on West 10th Street. You will find, if you know what you're looking for the most un-presuming restaurants of them all...on the outside that is. L'Artusi is a bustling authentic Italian restaurant - with a modern twist.

Arriving at 8.30pm, knowing there was going to be a wait we were told it was roughly 1.5 hours. We could wait in the 'standing' area by the door in L'Artusi, or go to a bar nearby and come back. I love it when restaurants allow you to leave the premesis when you are on the waiting list rather than keep you trapped. Luckily fairly nearby is the Hotel Gansevoort. Will blog the rooftop bar here at a later date. We dived here for cocktails then came back for 10pm for our Italian feast.
L'Artusi Kitchen

Family style Italian dining
If you are lucky - like we were, you will be seated at the bar. From here you get a great view of the kitchen, cheese bar and family style dining that is happening all around. The place was literally booming, the atmosphere is fabulous. First things first, the wine bible. L'Artusi has a walk in wine cellar of over 2,500 wines. This needs a hefty piece of tome to hold this.
The wine 'list' / tome / bible
As we were in Italy (almost) you will expect a lot of great Italian wines. We opted for a delicious Valpolicella. The wines start really reasonably priced and go up to the extreme - with a lot of delicious flavours in-between. There is something for everyone.
Our Valpolicella from Northern Italy

Wine decided it was on to more important things. I basically fancied everything on the menu. The wait staff are luckily very helpful and I asked for recommendations. One of the best selling dishes is their twist on traditional Spaghetti bolognaise. Sold. M opted for lamb shoulder gnocchi, both dishes were topped with pecorini cheese. We had only just began delving into the wine when the fresh food was ready. For a busy kitchen they don't mess around!
L'artusi Menu
Amazing food on offer
The portions are relatively small - probably the right sized portion, but the food is so good you could easily eat two dishes each...and we were VERY tempted. The spaghetti bolognese was fresh, incredibly flavoursome and satisfying. I could have eaten it again. M literally couldn't get enough of the slow cooked lamb gnocchi saying it was possibly the best meal EVER. Mains savoured we pored back into the wine.
Lamb shank gnocchi with pecorino cheese
There was bread too!
Tagliatelle bolognese

After perusing the main menu again contemplating ordering more mains, we thought better of ourselves. We would not be little piggies...just bring on the cheese please! The cheese selection was perfect. As we were in the states, we wanted American cheese, but not your typical. We went for prairie breeze cheddar from Iowa and Quadrello Di Bufala from Italy...when in Rome!
Perusing the main, dessert AND cheese menu
Sensibly opting for cheese
The cheese is served with flaky crackers, a pickle and almonds. The pickle is more for the cheddar, with the almonds complementing the Bufala. The cheese was possibly the highlight of the meal. To be honest, we savoured it. We had wolfed down our mains so didn't want it to be over too quickly. The Valpolicella was it's perfect companion. M was literally in cheese heaven, and still goes a bit funny on reviewing the photos of the cheese! We tried recreating this magic at the airport and failed cheese anywhere EVER is as good as L'Artusi.

This is making me hungry
We finished up and chatted to the staff, the restaurant is open until 2am! incredible. You would literally walk by this place in the street if you didn't know it was there, that is what i LOVE about London and New York, these hidden gems. Even after going to Italy last year, this food was perfection. L'Artusi is definitely up there with the best restaurants we've been to.

Atmosphere: 5/5
Food: 5/5
Drink: 4/5
Overall: 5/5 - love

Check it out for yourself here
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