I had lunch at Locanda Verde sometime last spring. I went with a friend who did the ordering for us. He knows the chef and he came out and hung out with for a while. The food was really delicious. Then, Bruni reviewed the restaurant and getting in became impossible to get a reservation. Fred wanted to go.
We had planned to have dinner with our friends who, like us, like to order a bunch of things off the menu and have our own tasting. I called in advance and low and behold actually got a reservation for 830 this past Friday night. Everyone was happy with that until we walked in. Maybe it is the location, maybe it was the kudos from Bruni, maybe it was Friday night, but for a relatively young restaurant in a new hotel, Locanda Verde feels a bit like a suburban fern bar. The bar, which runs the entire length of the restaurant, was 3 deep but nobody looked like they were from NYC. Regardless, we stayed, and sat down. As Bruni put it, this restaurant is not kind to whisperers. The noise level is deafening and took me a while to get used to it.
Our waiter appeared, took our order and we did a serious amount of ordering. We began with about 5 different appetizers. I am not going to remember everything we had. Carmellini, embraces the sharing concept so the portions are all based on that. First was a radish and chopped green veggie salad in a small white bowl mixed with pieces of Italian tuna and a light sauce. Quite good. So good that they brought it out twice, not sure why, but I recalled much later that we never got our whipped ricotta cheese doused in olive oil and herbs. Oh well. Our next appetizer was crispy pieces of thinly sliced bread with a mixture of blue crab, jalapenos and tomatoes. I really liked this. Different, tasty and one bite. We also had the steak tartare which comes with a soft boiled egg on top and a drop of truffle oil. The soft egg is truly the top of the list these days and appears on menus all over town. We mixed in the eggs and slathered the mixture over grilled bread. Excellent. One of the better steak tartares I have had. Out came a classic focaccia with tomato. I'm not a huge fan of this but did try and it and it was good. We also had a fritto misto of clams and rock shrimp. Served in a tiny bowl which is good but nobody was that interested in finishing it.
Carmellini is known for his pasta and meatballs. We got the lamb meatball sliders served in small potato hamburger buns, with a sliced pickle on top and something else. Good. I would have preferred the meatballs without any bread just hanging out in a light sauce. Now we dug into the pastas. The second courses did not rock any of our boats so we only ordered one and filled up on pasta. The one we ordered was braised veal cheeks, four, sitting over a risotto dish. Not that good, weird flavor.
The white bolognese I had last time was fantastic. Now, he is serving it with small pieces of fried pancetta and clams (cockles) over spaghetti. Really good. Rich, tasty. We also had a penne pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage and chick peas which was quite delicious and another was pumpkin ravioli with sage and brown butter. I should have grabbed the menu but unfortunately I didn't. As a whole, most of the pastas were really good. Also, nothing was heavy handed with the garlic. I didn't feel regret the next morning which is huge.
We did go for desserts and the thrill of the night was the brown butter ice cream. Pretty rich and tasty. The lemon tart was also dense and tart. It isn't about the desserts, it is about the appetizers and the pastas.
So, will I go back? Probably for lunch but it isn't a neighborhood that I find myself in that often except when I take Josh to the orthodontist. I just didn't love the vibe. Good food, a great addition to Tribeca but not sure it is one of those places that I will add to my repertoire.