I am a big fan of both Buvette and I Sodi so I was excited to hear about the two owners ( who are also partners ) opening up a restaurant together in the same neighborhood called Via Carota. Adding another solid Italian restaurant to the area should be a win. That is it should be. Fred went when the place just opened up and sat at the bar to have dinner. I was out of town. He was very lukewarm on his experience but did not want to cloud my judgement so we went back after a few weeks. Keep in mind that Via Carota does not take reservations. They don’t even take phone calls as the phone rings endlessly there without even a machine to pick up and say to the possible patron that they are opened these hours, walk in only, etc. Their website has nothing but the logo. We decided to get there on the earlier side with the hopes of scoring a seat. We got two stools at the bar right before the mad rush.
The restaurant has huge windows over looking Grove Street that run the length of the restaurant. The bar runs the length of the restaurant too. A very Italian vibe. The vibe in there might be better in the summer when the light comes streaming in and the windows are open. I felt like the place had been poorly constructed or maybe it was just the accessories that they chose like coat hooks, bar top etc.
The menu is not that much different than their own restaurants. Nothing new, exciting or unique. I wonder who is actually cooking the food in the back. Maybe it is the size of the place vs the small intimacy that works in the other restaurants but I am not a fan. We started out with a few items off the Verdure section which is essentially small antipasto like plates. We couldn’t decide so we spoke with the guy behind the bar. Told him specifically that we do not like garlic. This was the first and biggest disconnect.
We started with a salad of thinly sliced cabbage, parm cheese and walnuts. I thought it would be a nice start. Crisp, light and sharp. Instead it was boring and tasteless.
Our next two dishes was a warm radicchio with pine nuts and ricotta cheese. Heavy dollops of cheese that did not spread throughout the dish so at times you just got this huge wallop of cheese in your mouth.
Roasted fennel with supposedly a fennel confit and a few chopped tomatoes. The nice thing is that the fennel is super soft but there is nothing that makes this dish tasty.
Fred went with a bowl of pasta for dinner. Veal bolognese. They could think about serving the pasta in a bowl that makes it look like a main course vs a side dish to start. There was zero bite or richness to the sauce. It was watery and tasteless.
Last and certainly not least was the chicken. I did tell the waiter I did not do garlic and actually asked about a few dishes before ordering. I got the dish and could smell the garlic. I should have sent it back or even asked why do they find it necessary to put fresh chopped garlic on top of the chicken but I didn’t. I ate some of it not all because half of it was undercooked. It was juicy and the presentation was good but that’s it.
We left disappointed. Fred said I confirmed for him what he thought the first time although wanted to give it another shot since the restaurant had just opened. I tossed and turned all night due to the garlic quantities. This is a brand new place. Packed because of the other two restaurants loyal clientele. There is no doubt that Jodi Williams is not cooking in the kitchen. All and all a huge bummer. I had such high hopes.