Restaurant Review: Industria Argentina
(This restaurant has since CLOSED)
The authenticity is never questioned at Tribeca’s Industria Argentina- a small, intimate restaurant that prides itself on staying true to the experience of dining Argentinian style. From the chef to the selection of specialty drinks to the decor to the preparation of dishes, a few small steps inside the restaurant’s front door, transport you to a very real Argentinian eatery. Because of the neighborhood and its proximity to the financial district, the dress is slightly more upscale than casual, with after work suit types parading around the bar area. While the decor and attention to detail may have been spot on, unfortunately the food could not meet the same requisite measure of satisfaction.
The interior is impressive, complimented by a friendly bar and host staff seemingly always smiling, offering recommendations, and giving us our choice of tables in the dining area. Past the long bar and small tables up front lies a bevy of leather chairs and larger wooden tables, which feel spacious and un-cramped even when next to other patrons. But the eye catching decor alone could not salvage our aghast when told that there were no cold bottles of beer available- during prime dinner hours. Shocked, we asked for a mug with ice and managed to slug down an Argentinian beer albeit at room temperature. The starter dishes did manage to settle us down a bit. The “mejillones provenzal steamed mussels” ($12) were of the Prince Edward Island variety, served up in a broth of white wine, garlic and parsley. While the mussels were small in size, the portion was generous and welcomed, as the salty broth served as a pool for delicious bread dipping for our party. The “provoleta” ($12) was even tastier- an oven-roasted smoked provolone cheese, melted with a crisp layer atop the dish, served with tomatoes and fresh oregano with a batch of accompanying crostinis on the side. The warm cheese was both creamy and mild, and the leftover garlicky toasts were re-utilized in the remaining mussel broth.
Whereas the appetizers were big time hits, the entrees were unfortunately all near misses. We had hoped to taste what had been a previously recommended rack of lamb, but a recent menu change instead left us with the “cordero patagonico” ($32) or a leg of lamb. Served with a toasted polenta and roasted tomatoes, the meaty leg was simply underwhelming and calling the serving temperature even warm would have been exaggerated. Rather than send it back, we noshed on it, dissatisfied and disenchanted by the second dining out “no-no” of our night. The parrillada completa ($30) was a smorgasbord of red meat delicacies- skirt steak, sweet breads, lamb sausage, pork sausage, blood sausage, and short ribs on a skillet and served with field greens, and some tasty garlic and parsley French fries. But even with a pack of different meat options, none of them managed to stand out flavor-wise- at least, not to the caliber of the Manhattan steaks we’re used to tasting. Admittedly, the preparation and cuts are of different distinction, but even the “lomo” ($34) and the “entrana” ($28) proved not to be much better. The “lomo” was likely the best of the bunch- a center cut filet mignon, served with crispy potato medallions and topped with a chimichurri sauce. On the other hand, the “entraña” or skirt steak, was served with mashed potatoes and oven roasted vegetables. Both dishes were serviceable, but again were just middle of the road and left our first experience dining out Argentinian, a disappointment.
We understand that things happen and that not every dining experience can be an unparalleled success in delicious excellence. But our first time at Industria Argentina left us with too many concerns to even entertain the thought of a repeat visit- not to mention the fact that Tribeca is a neighborhood rife with similarly priced, justifiably excellent restaurants. For appearance points, the restaurant gets a passing grade, but if Industria Argentina is what we can expect from a genuine Argentinian restaurant, we’re putting our trip to Buenos Aires on hold indefinitely.