First impressions of L’Artusi were very good – comfortable, clean, simple, well-designed, good service. Seeing the kitchen with the pots hanging in the back, the cushioned bar stools, and the striped ceiling all made me very excited to sit down for a nice dinner on a rare Sunday night out before a Monday off from work. The waitress was delightful and very attentative to our questions for recommendations – although many of the her suggestions are what led MM and I to a sub-par review of the restaurant.
A few rare Italian offerings got MM and I excited for our dinners, but also nervous at the stakes of them not pulling them off correctly. Pizzoccheri, for instance, is one dish MM and I love very much in the Northern region of Italy, in Bormio, to be exact. We even went so far as to ask the floor manager to be sure it was authentic, when he responded with the incorrect pronounciation, our worries were varified. Even still, MM ordered the pizzoccheri and the wild boar dish. The pizzoccheri resembled more of a lasagna – there was no whole wheat pasta in a shape similar to tagliatelle and it was definitely baked with a strong emphasis on what “baked” can look and taste like. The real pizzoccheri in Italy is actually a pasta dish and not confused confused with lasagna by any stretch of the imagination. The wild boar arrived with a huge, and unannounced, dollop of sour cream. MM hates sour cream and neither of us enjoyed its presence in the dish. I ordered the yellowtail crudo, which wasn’t even comparable to Scarpetta’s mind-blowing version, and the octopus entree. The octopus was more like a couple of shavings of spicy octopus with the main focus of the dish being the little bread cakes underneath.
I don’t mean to put such a negative slant on my feedback about our experience at L’Artusi, but I feel it is necessary to explain that the dishes they are attempting to pull off have little to no resemblence of the actual dishes. Putting a different spin on Italian classics is expected with talented chefs, but not when presenting very rarely done dishes such a pizzoccheri. Also, when ordering “octopus,” I’d expect it to be the primary ingredient on the plate. Hasn’t Gabrielle Thompson seen “Iron Chef” where the judges tear the chefs apart if the secret ingredient isn’t the main flavor on the plate???
228 West 10th Street near Bleeker Street