This tiny West Village Italian hot spot has made the cut for scrumptious Italian food in the big apple. When you walk into this west 10th restaurant, the smell of fresh pasta fills the air and your mouth starts to salivate. The long and narrow outlay of this place gives you the feeling as if you are walking down an aisle in a wedding (an italian wedding, of course) (now I want soup). The decor is elegant and bright and the lighting soft and cool. It makes for a beautiful romantic setting perfect for a date. There are about 110 seats and two floors. They also have a 2500 wine bottle cellar that you can have private dinners in. Did we mention open kitchen? Oh, right one of those, too.
The menu is comprised of crudo, verdura, pasta, pesce, carne and dolci (that’s the extent of our Italian). Each item on the menu are smaller plates meant for sharing so bring someone who likes to share. The most popular item on the menu is (believe it or not) the spaghetti. It’s beautiful and so simple. The dish is made with garlic, parmesan and chilies and could possibly be one of the best spaghetti dishes we’ve ever had. If you bring a date and order this dish, think “Lady and the Tramp” minus the meatballs. You can taste every ingredient and the pasta is cooked perfectly and even if you’re full you will find yourself unable to put that fork down.
Let’s talk carpaccio. If you’re a carpaccio lover this place puts an awesome twist on this dish. It’s a picturesque paper thin carpaccio with a horseradish crema and some rye crisps. I mean, beef and horseradish are a classic combo and this crema has a little tang and spice. The rye crisps add some of that much needed crunch. This dish made us excited that someone took the time to put some thought into a carpaccio to make it memorable. Another memorable dish is the roasted mushrooms with pancetta, ricotta salata, and a fried egg. It’s egg-stra good. Wow. This is an awesome foursome. For those of you who don’t know, ricotta salata is a moist, fresh cheese made from whey and is a version of ricotta cheese that has been pressed, dried and salted. It tastes nutty and milky with a hint of salt that completes the marriage of the roasted mushrooms, pancetta and the fried egg in this dish. The whole dish just sings. Order it.
Most Italian restaurants take pride in their olive oils and L’Artusi is no different. They use some of the best ingedients, which is why their dishes, even the most simplistic ones seem to be amazing. Speaking of olive oil they make an olive oil cake from their dolci menu that is out of this world. Olive it (yet another bad joke). This is a moist, yet firm cake with a raisin marmellata, vin santo and a creme fraiche mousse. In other words, a cake with a raisin jam or marmalade, an amazing italian dessert wine reduction, and a tangy and sweet sour cream-like topping. It’s all really awesome.
Best advice is to make a reservation at this place because they fill up pretty quickly and the whole meal is reasonably priced with each item running around 14-16 bucks. You will order quite a few dishes so take that into consideration. Their wine list is extensive and the staff is quite knowledgable, which is especially handy if a large wine list scares the pants off you (drinking wine sometimes equals no pants anyways). Get over to L’Artusi and see why this place has earned its spot at the top of our Italian list.