This week’s restaurant review – L’Artusi on 228 W 10th St. I had unsuccessfully tried to get in here twice before via reservation – granted each time was for a Friday night. It is only through Elana’s stalking of the staff at the commonly owned nearby wine bar, Anfora, which secures us an 8:30 reservation.
My first thought about L’Artusi – what a cool space. Its first floor is bustling with energy. Dimly lit, yet festive – it offers a bar, a small chef’s table, regular seating and, in the back, a glimpse of the kitchen. Our table is actually in the upstairs portion of this loft-style joint. From our spot, I can view the downstairs crown or peep a skylight above. Off to the side, is one of the more cooler looking private party rooms I could imagine. Mental note for my upcoming 22nd birthday party.
Part owner and sommelier Joe Campanale, glides over to offer a wine recommendation to accompany our selections off the menu. Our server applauds our selection. Everyone here seems to be on the same page. Already, it appears that we are in good hands.
Getting things started, we order their Ricotta cheese with some wafers and cranberry. Really wonderful. The Ricotta is extremely creamy, with a hint of thrill to it. Yeah, thrill – there is a little tang or punch to it. The wafers provide a nice platform to scoop up some cranberries to mix with the ricotta.
Elana and I proceed to then split a dish of roasted mushrooms with fried egg, peppers and pancetta. Extreme loads of flavor here, with the peppers providing a spicy after punch. A strong and salty dish, I keep plowing my fork into this pile of goodness until its disappearing act.
We each order a pasta dish. Elana selects the Mushroom Garganelli. This is very solid. It’s pasta in a mushroom, beefy ragu. I get the autumn squash ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce. This is excellent. Great sage flavor here. The homemade ravioli is thin and fresh, giving way to a warm, sweet squash inside. We also split the cauliflower ravioli which, if you couldn’t see, is Elana’s “fav.”
For an entreé, Elana chooses roasted quail with butternut squash, cranberries, brussel sprouts and roasted garlic. The skin on the quail is cooked to a perfect, snapping crust. The bird itself is moist, and perfectly fatty and salty. The sweet cranberries and roasted garlic, a kryptonite of mine of sorts, make this the top dish of the night in my estimation. I opt for the braised short ribs with polenta and parmesan. These babies are perfectly cooked, and the polenta serves as a filling, plentiful side.
For dessert, we get some olive oil cake. It is a pound cake with, indeed, a distinctive olive oil taste. It’s light and moist, with raisins and a whip cream to smother on top. We also try the cranberry crostata with pecans and vanilla gelato. Another winner here.
Service is near perfect. A knowledgeable, attentive and friendly staff. We never felt rushed despite the busy goings on of the restaurant.
As to the bathrooms, Elana was quite impressed – “the single bathroom (on the upper floor) was an avant guarde little oasis with spray painted circles and subway tiles halfway up the wall. It felt like a walk in art installation complete with porcelain throne and Exlerator!”
Spending a night at L’Artusi was time well invested. The atmosphere is great, the staff is eager to please, and the food is high quality. Their menu is diverse and plentiful, making a return visit high on my to-do list.
Overall Movie Experience – Heat