228 West 10th Street, West Village
Getting There: 1,2 to Christopher Street – Sheridan Square
Restaurant Review: LArtusi
A classy, well refined West Village exists beyond the shadows of NYU buildings and a weekend warrior laden party scene. Walk towards the Hudson River and you will discover historic, ornate brownstones with many holding delightful treasures on their ground floor. Italian restaurant L’Artusi is a prime example of an excellent dining experience located in a very subtle locale. Sister restaurant of dell’anima and the more recent opening L’Apicio, on a recent weeknight our party decided to check out the much talked about establishment that has been serving modernized Italian fare to critical acclaim since 2008.
As we approached the dimunitive, subtle entrance we figured L’Artusi would resemble the cozy Italian bistros we have been accustomed to for years. But as a great surprise, this was not the case at all. Travel just beyond the doors and you will see a vibrant, bi-level room that brilliantly uses the typically small West Village space issues creatively in their favor. Even before approaching the host stand we could spot patrons eating and drinking at L’Artusi’s well stocked, medium sized bar adjacent to a packed downstairs dining area with enough room to breathe. Nearby, a half open-air bustling kitchen allows guests a chance to see where the magic comes from. After quickly taking in the entertaining ambiance, we spoke to the friendly hostess who sat us promptly for our reservation on the mezzanine level. Our large table overlooked the restaurant’s main dining area as well as a glimpse into the enclosed private seating section surrounded by a massive collection of different wine bottles.
L’Artusi’s wine list is varied and expansive, featuring maps of the regions from which the wines are derived. With glasses of wine full we ordered each dish with the expectation of sharing and the rejuvenated Italian cuisine left no shortage of tasty options. If we learned anything from dining at L’Apicio, the restaurant’s housemade pastas were the brightest spots during an outstanding experience and L’Artusi was certainly no different. After perusing the menu, we decided on four distinctive dishes to share amongst us- the highlight of which seemed to be the “Cavatelli” ($18). Served with a chicken ragu and a sharp parmesan cheese, the addition of capers really brought out the combination of flavors here excellently. Being partial to flat, thick pasta, the “Tagliatelle” ($18) was also a big winner as each delectable strand perfectly soaked up the bolognese bianco and fresh parmesan, without being overly saucy. The remainder of our party also really enjoyed the “Orecchiette” ($18), served alongside a sea of salty sausage and salumi topped with shreds of percorino cheese as well as a more traditional “Garganelli” ($17), doused in a mushroom ragu sauce and topped off with a layer of ricotta.
With the delicious helpings of pasta now behind us, it was time to concentrate on some proteins to pair with the endless glasses of seasonal red wines being sipped. We began with the Pesce portion of the menu and selected the “Charred Octopus” ($18), surrounded by chilies, olives, and pancetta, served over a bed of roasted potatoes. When ordering octopus it is essential that the dish be tender and juicy and that’s exactly what we found here. Each bite mixed a lemony sour with the delicious char from the grill which got our collective palettes ready for a tremendous meal to come. The side of “Brussels Sprouts,” ($8) from the Contorni portion of the menu continued this trend with its hearty and savory taste profile and soft meets crunchy texture.
We then opted to pair Pesce with Carne as we ordered up the “Braised Short Rib” ($24), a perennial favorite of ours. Served over a generous helping of creamy polenta and topped off with parmesan, the kitchen staff of L’Artusi really did their homework here, elevating this dish to other levels of taste satisfaction. The tender meat pulled apart seamlessly with the rich meaty flavors and light polenta meshing wonderfully. Our second meat choice was on special this evening- the “Rack of Lamb for Two” ($48) was served four to an order atop a mixture of lentils and other seasonal vegetables. The prepared meat was perfectly tender at a medium rare temperature, but proved far too minute a portion for two hungry diners to share at that cost. The dish was a winner on taste alone, however and managed to be a great addition to our meal, despite being better suited for one person to enjoy.
With visits of L’Apicio and L’Artusi now out of the way, it’s become abundantly clear that the Epicurean Management team knows exactly what they are doing. While it’s simply taken us far too long to finally visit, L’Artusi is beautifully hidden gem, situated among some of our city’s greatest residential buildings in perhaps Manhattan’s most sought after neighborhood. Inside you will find a dining experience that will feed both your eyes and stomach, while somehow keeping some dough in your wallet. At L’Artusi, the energetic atmosphere matches the anticipation of the tasty dishes brought to your table, leaving you with just one thing left to do- clink your wine glasses and rejoice: Buon Appetito!
Rundown of the Meal
Orecchiette ( $18)
Cavatelli ( $18)*
Charred Octopus ($18)
Rack of Lamb Special for Two ($48)
Braised Short Rib ($24)*
Brussels Sprouts ($8)