14 Bedford St.
Located on a cobble-stoned strip of charming restaurants, this darling Village newcomer fills a void with its Roman cuisine and spirited and tempermental service. The warm, inviting decor of exposed brick and candlelight set a romantic, low-key stage that is contrasted by the family-style bustle and vivacious outbursts of the service…On the refreshing up-side: no scripted, yuppy pretense here. For lovers of high-functioning efficiency though, service can be uneven here, at its worst it can either overly solicitous or slow and neglectful. Either way it’s reliably warm and cheerful. Don’t be surprised if you hear your servers spontaneously break into some verse of Italian pop music as they bring you your silverware or napkin.
Since it’s opening in late April, I have been here twice. Both times were enjoyable and while the experiences were not off-the-charts spectacular, in part because New York is such a hub of wonderful Italian food, the Roman specialities were excellent and very reminiscent of the rustic flavors that I’ve relished in Rome.
Since my Canon Powershot died on me on the night of my first visit, I can only illustrate the meals that were ordered at most recent dinner here.
The bucatini all’ Amatriciana that I ordered were on a par with the some of the best I’ve had in Rome. The bucatini were toothsome and richly coated in the delicious supple sauce made of succulent imported guanciale and tomatoes. A thick blanket of grated cacio on top is de rigeur and servers are more than happy, if not outright insistent (and right they are) to douse the pastas in delicious mildy aged Roman cheese as they serve the pasta dishes. Generous portions and all in all a plate of gut-busting goodness.
My dining companion ordered the penne al pesto di pistacchio. The pesto was pulsing with flavor and texture. This is a truly exciting and worthwhile departure from ordinary basil pesto.
Since the pastas were deliciously filling, my dining companion and I were hesitant about dessert, but our ebullient waiter exhorted us to order a piece of artisinal tart that was made grandmother style. Fact is tarts, in multiple flavors are the only dessert option on the menu.. It was not a problem for me though, since I’m always a sucker for fruit tarts. We opted to share a piece of strawberry fruit tart.
The tart was commendably fresh. The crust was thin, flaky and not the least bit greasy. The sweet strawberry jam tasted homemade. My only complaint was the skimpiness of the portion. Unless it’s a dessert tasting or some food addiction victory party, a portion of tart that is one inch wide, is simply inexcusable.
On my first visit I ordered the pollo al rosmarino con patate. It was a simple homestyle dish made of subtly seasoned chicken legs and thighs. For a home-prepared looking meal it was disappointingly scant in size. The potato chunks were less than a handful and the boned chicken parts were sparse and small in size. Needless to say the dish was mediocre. While the low cost of the entree alleviated the disappointment somewhat, it was still a big let down for a place that offers above-average pastas with hearty portions. My dining companion ordered the tonarelli cacio e pepe. Here too, the Quinto Quarto came through with this classic Roman specialty.
In sum: A nice casual, low-key, affordabe choice for the Village. Good for a date or small group of friends. To maximize food experience: definitely order the pastas. Salads are fresh; nothing outrageously inspired, but good. Desserts: the list is inexplicably limited and consists almost exclusively of different flavored pie tarts. Dessert is tasty, but unless you’re happy to settle a forkful or less, don’t bet on sharing.
Wines: a nice selection of Italian wines. By the glass options are also decent. Service is knowledgeable about pairings.