13 East First Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, East Village
Getting There: 6 to Bleecker Street; F to 2nd Avenue; D to Broadway-Lafayette Street
Restaurant Review: L'Apicio
The inspired team behind the likes of popular New York City eateries L’Artusi, dell’anima, and Anfora (Epicurean Management) launched a brand new East Village haunt a little over one month ago, bringing their modernized vision of traditional Italian fare to the Bowery. The much bandied about L’Apicio is a welcomed addition to a constantly developing neighborhood, now rife with notable restaurants. But on the sprawling ground floor of a brand new building, a visit to L’Apicio feels like an ideal night out in Manhattan, whether you’re grabbing a drink in the space’s massive bar and lounge area or seated at one of the many tables in the contemporary looking dining room.
Inside, the vibe of L’Apicio is different than you’d expect to find at your run of the mill Italian spot- and it works well here. Just a few steps to the right of the host stand opens up a refined bar area, surrounded by classy wooden stools and a fine wooden bar countertop. Behind the bar seating lies a bevy of smaller tables for the more casual diner and a collection of plush couches that make you forget- momentarily- that you’re actually here to have dinner. Much of L’Apicio’s main dining area meanwhile is divided up by a colossal and clear walk-in wine cellar, displaying the hundreds of bottles offered up on the restaurant’s seemingly endless wine list.
After kicking back with some cocktails and two selections of tasty cheeses ($6 ea.) served with typical accoutrements, we feasted our eyes on L’Apicio’s mouthwatering menu. Despite being a rather sizable space, the menu is perfectly limited and sits on one lone page. As with most traditional Italian meals, the staff encourages parties to share several different courses and fortunately with so many delicious options here, agreeing on each course proved to be no problem. We eschewed the lighter portion of the menu (Insalata) as well as the heavier (Polenta alla Spianatora) and instead began with the “Tuna Carpaccio” ($12), an olive oil soaked, razor thin slice of the fresh fish. Admittedly there’s only so much that you’d expect from a carpaccio dish, and ours was serviceable if not unmemorable- though no fault of which lies with the restaurant here.
Where L’Apicio really succeeded however was with their outstanding house prepared pastas. Forgoing tasty options like the “Cavatelli” ($18) with chunks of wild boar and the “Calamarata” ($18) with a calamari ragu, we decided to be a bit more experimental and ordered up the “Agnolotti” ($17), an outstanding plate of enveloped pasta overstuffed with sweetbreads and creamy mascarpone cheese. Topped with shreds of sharp parmesan, the dish was a hit with our party, who began eying the final pieces as the portion began to diminish. Also worthy of praise were the sides of “Creamed Kale” ($8) and the excellent “Roasted Brussel Sprouts” ($8), which were served shredded and littered with salty hunks of speck.
As we approached the main entrees, of which there are only nine items, our server steered us toward the “Cod Saltimbocca” ($27), draped in a succulent slice of speck. The fish was perfectly prepared and delicately light, plated over a soupy medley of potatoes and clam broth and paired exceptionally with the salted meat wrapping. We also opted for the “Bistecca Tagliata” ($24), a faultlessly cooked medium rare hanger steak served with a creamy side of ‘salsa blanco’ to add an additional kick to an otherwise adequate cut of meat. The side of Tuscan steak fries was the real standout of the dish as the hearty and filling batch supplemented the steak nicely.
In their most advantageous restaurant opening yet, Epicurean Management certainly seems to have found a winner with L’Apicio. The atmosphere inside exudes a certain coolness, a nicety for an Italian restaurant of this ilk, and the fare being served up is both unique and creative, fitting in seamlessly with many of the recently opened restaurants near the Bowery. And with a place that’s still in the process of getting its footing after only being operational for a month, things are destined to only get better from here.
Rundown of the Meal
Tuna Carpaccio ($12)
Cod Saltimbocca ($27)
Bistecca Tagliata ($24)*
Creamed Kale ($8)
Roasted Brussel Sprouts ($8)*