Jonathan Waxman’s latest venture is Barbuto on Washington Street. This place is completely different than his last venture, Washington Square Park.
The restaurant has a great vibe. It is enclosed with glass windows that open up like a garbage to the street so the air breezes through. The kitchen is open into the restaurant that internally has old brick. Very Italian. Inside the kitchen, there is a table for 8, so I assume you can reserve that table to watch and eat the food being prepared.
We just strolled in around 6:30 and got a table for 5. My guess is, the restaurant has a much later crowd. The hostess was sort of snippy. She wasn’t so sure she was going to take us but wanted to make sure we’d be gone by 8:15. Almost 2 hours. We are standing there with 3 kids, do you think we want to stay more than 2 hours? If your service is any good, you can guarantee turning your tables. Interesting enough, by the time we left, there were still a lot of empty tables. So, get rid of the attitude and fill your seats or this restaurant won’t be open much longer. You only survive when you are full.
They sat us at a small round table which I really liked. It was intimate and we could share. We started with 3 appetizers. All excellent. Proscuitto with long pieces of toast – delicious. Mussels steamed with a sauteed pieces of sausage and a gremolita over the top. An interesting combination that really works. Grilled octopus with a 5 bean salad. Large pieces of grilled octopus over a green salad with lima beans, fava beans, different colored string beans and a ranch type sauce. This was absolutely the best thing there. The different combinations and textures really made this dish good. I’d go back and order 2 of these.
Dinner was next. Mixed reviews on this. I had grilled sea bass over lima beans and a tomato salsa. It was cooked well, crispy skin and presented beautifully but not that tasty. It was bland. There was no punch. Very disappointing. 2 of us had the spaghetti with clams, shrimp and mussels. Again, no punch. This was made with a light olive oil and a fish broth. No taste really. It was unfortunate. One of us had the grilled hanger steak with a red chilli sauce. The sauce was supposed to be served on the side, as requested, but wasn’t. We didn’t send it back but it made the steak a bit too spicy and took away from the flavor of the meat instead of enhancing it. The last entree was the chicken which was excellent. The guy knows how to make chicken. Juicy inside, crispy outside. It was served with buttered long beans which were sort of bland too.
I loved the vibe there so I’d go back and just order appetizers which were hands down the best things we ate. Perhaps someone should help Waxman’s kitchen. If this is to succeed, someone should try and give the food a little more depth in the taste department.