In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and its tumultuous impact on the eastern seaboard and to many of my close friends who live and work there, writing about the string of really good restaurants I visited throughout Manhattan was a strong reminder of some things that are beautiful, unrivaled, and enduring about New York, its various neighborhoods, and the creativity and talent of its restaurant industry.
I’d gone home to Kentucky for a few days and after getting back to my TriBeCa hotel, it was a shade past two and I desperately needed a hearty lunch to make me forget about all of the morning’s airport snacks and Starbucks. My trusty Eater 38 guide pointed me towards Locanda Verde, a nearby Italian joint, headed up by Andrew Carmellini (who cooked previously at Cafe Boulud and started A Voce).
The lunch menu was very slim, just one or two single-column pages, if I remember correctly, and the decor somewhat nondescript in a trattoria way, halfway between speakeasy and steakhouse. The waiter, although not particularly warm in the mama-hostess sort of joviality that I love, was nevertheless unobtrusive and exceedingly polite, and helped me settle on a simple lunch of Grandmother’s Ravioli (a chef’s-special-recipe sort of simple fare dish, with multi-meat stuffing), a side of brussel sprouts (with pancetta, obviously), and for dessert a scoop of black mission fig sorbetto (oh, and a few slices of butternut squash focaccia to start).
Folks who know me know that I’ve really taken a liking to brussels sprouts over the past year or two – or, if you’re a folk who knows me and didn’t know that, FYI. Carmellini’s brussels sprouts excellently straddled that imaginary nexus between just charred enough, flavor-marinated, and too mushy. It wasn’t quite as unique as the intense fish-sauce brussels sprouts at Red Medicine in LA, but the pancetta expectedly brought a lot of oomph to each bite. More recently, I’ve also learned that it’s worth taking a moment with each ravioli to actually try and enjoy the taste of the filling – the opposite to what school cafeterias had previously trained me to do. These Grandmother raviolis were definitely worth the extra time.
I wish there had been one or two more people with me – I would’ve loved to split some appetizers (especially the duck meatballs) and perhaps try a second pasta (I had also been debating the pumpkin agnolotti), but as it was, lunch was amazingly delicious and well-done.
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013