Grub/Spirits Restaurant Reviews — 17 August 2010
A Restaurant Review: Locanda Verde

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street, at North Moore Street, Tribeca, (212) 925-3797
Getting There: 1 to Franklin Street

Locanda Verde

Dimly lit.  Jam packed.  Affordably priced.  Unbeatable atmosphere.  Absolutely delectable.  Perhaps more famous because of celebrity owner Robert DeNiro, Locanda Verde is a Tribeca hotspot that defines the modernity of the neighborhood with a relaxed bit of refinement.  After entering the large wooden doors adorning the exterior, the noise of excitement immediately takes over, as you witness a massive bar filled to capacity with working professionals and informally, yet properly dressed thrill-seekers.  While these patrons may have been sitting bar side for a taste of the energy in the area, we were there to taste the mouth-watering, rustic Italian fare.

The walk from the crowded hostess stand to table provided a glimpse of fancy cocktail orders, attractively arranged dishes, and the opportunity to look for celebrity sightings, of which there were unfortunately none.  Once we had menus in hand, it became clear that the restaurant was focused on serving an atmosphere of affluence without having their customers break the bank.  With a wine list featuring over 100 Italian wines, none of which exceed $150 and most in the $40-$55 range, Locanda Verde is clearly suitable for a special occasion on any budget.

After being served a delicious basket of warm, lemon infused parmesan bread, we opted to taste at least one selection from each of the 4 courses on the menu.  Beginning with the Crostini, we decided against the critically acclaimed sheep’s milk ricotta ($12) and chose the blue crab with jalapeno and tomato ($10) to start.  Although the portion size was diminutive (2 pieces), the taste of the tangy, but not spicy jalapeno, coupled with the fresh, almost creamy crabmeat proved to be an excellent starting point.  From the Antipasti menu, we selected the lamb meatball ($12).  The two bite-sized sliders were served with a sharp caprino goat cheese and cucumber, with a lightly coated tomato sauce.  While the other available Antipasti options enticed us (steak taratara piedmontese ($16), grilled octopus ($17), & burrata ($16) to name a few), after tasting the sliders, it became clear that our initial instinct was spot on.

The pasta menu at Locanda Verde was just as appetizing.  With six distinct options ranging from orecchiette with homemade duck sausage ($19) to veal agnolotti with pancetta, peas, and rosemary ($19), we recommend the primitive spaghetti, served with impeccably cooked rock shrimp, toasted garlic, and bottarga ($19).  The lightly sauced, incredibly garlic-infused pasta dish was the highlight of our entire dinner, and the starchy dish really filled us up.

We closed out the evening with the fennel glazed duck ($27)- two large mounds of duck breast served atop tuscan lentils and mild grappa-cherries.  The duck meat was succulent and tender, with a sweet, salty exterior, and a juicy pink center.  We paired the entrée with an order of the organic spinach ($8), which was prepared sautéed with crispy chickpeas and topped with a shredded, cold ricotta cheese.  The two complimented each other marvelously and proved a perfect close to a tremendous dinner.  With only 6 options for main courses (grilled branzino ($28) and a fire roasted garlic chicken for two ($22 ea.) being some of the standouts), the pickings are slim.  But the preparation is innovative and the cooking is immaculate.  The only downside is that we failed to leave room for any of the spectacular desserts that we watched get paraded around the dining area.

Locanda Verde is a truly special restaurant- from the modern, casual elegance exuding from their clientele, to the outstanding food and service they present.  And perhaps best of all, exquisite tastes at a cost within your means- all at a restaurant with its own swagger, in a neighborhood that’s full of it.

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