When on the hunt for al fresco dining in the quant streets between the Meatpacking District and West Village, your options are basically endless. Simple and unassuming, Barbuto is an almost-hidden gem amongst those tree-lined and cobblestone streets of the “Lower West Side”. And whether you’re looking for a bomb brunch or delicious dinner, Barbuto’s modern Italian menu is sure to satisfy.
Nestled underneath Industria Superstudios, in what is technically a garage with doors on all sides that can be opened or closed based upon the weather, you can enjoy sidewalk seating during these warm spring and summer months. The casual neighborhood feel, minimalist decor, and wide open kitchen with wood-burning oven and hanging pots and pans is super fun and inviting — as is the friendly, smiling, bearded (barbuto in Italian) dog that graces their logo.
Now, after having tested out each menu Barbuto has to offer, it seems as though you just can’t go wrong (and the menu changes fairly often). Whether you’re in the mood for a brunch of oven baked eggs with spicy sausage and sautéed kale, or a breakfast pizza with oozy egg yolk (yum), or even a switch-hitter (brunch or lunch offering) bucatini alla carbonara with flecks of fresh cracked black pepper that perfectly balance the chewy, salty pieces of pancetta and rich yolk-coated strands of pasta… they’ve got you covered. Pair it with one of their glasses of côtes de provence rosé, and you won’t be disappointed.
As with all authentic Italian cooking, simplicity is standard. This holds true with their killer insalata di cavolo — kale salad. Dressed with pecorino, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and anchovy dressing, it was literally perfect.
Moving on to primi piatti, the gnocchi stagionale is a must. It’s not like any gnocchi I have ever had, which includes my own handmade, my grandmother’s, or that of the many trattoria’s in Italy in which I’ve dined. Unique to Barbuto, as far as I know, the pillows of potato are browned and crisped ever-so-delicately after poaching, giving them a chewy, creamy texture. In a light tomato-based sauce accompanied by sweet corn kernels, bursted cherry tomatoes, basil and parmesan, it really highlights the in-season produce. Hence, stagionale — seasonal.
A garlicky side (contorni) of sautéed swiss chard and escarole makes a great accompaniment to the spectacular pollo al forno. Chef/owner Jonathan Waxman has pretty much perfected roast chicken. I kid you not. Barbuto has actually become renowned for their bird. The portion (two bone-in legs and breasts) is presented with a “salsa verde” that coats the crispy, golden skin.
The “salsa” is a mixture of basil, parsley, tarragon – which imparts a subtle licorice flavor, by the way – garlic, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. This chicken with its juicy meat, crunchy skin and savory herbs is just flat-out addicting. So good.
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Following suit, the wine list is at that same standard. I have a personal preference for lambrusco and their ‘becco rosso’ from Emilia-Romagna is deliciously effervescent, well-balanced and refreshing (also, really reasonably priced).
Overall, I’ve become a huge fan of this place and I know I’m not alone — I spotted chef and restaurateur, Marc Murphy of Landmarc, at a nearby table on my last visit. So, next time you’re mulling over dinner options in the Village, do yourself a favor and have a damn good meal at Barbuto.
Have you been? Tell us about it in the comments below!