NYC’s Locanda Verde: Swing and a Miss

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I’m afraid, like Minetta Tavern, Locanda Verde is also guilty of hype over hope. Maybe the marked improvement over Robert DeNiro’s former restaurant in the same space, Ago–an all-around disaster–is putting stars, literally, in people’s eyes. Yet chef Andrew Carmellini, who won a Michelin star in 2009 for his food at A Voce, continues to receive awards and recognition for his latest venture. Or maybe we just ordered the wrong things? A Time Out New York food editor recently told me it’s all about the desserts. Well, I tend to like what precedes them, too, especially if there are awards involved.


We started with a seemingly bottomless pit of sheeps’ milk ricotta with sea salt and herbs. I think they forgot the seasoning because no amount of additional salt could bring out any depth of taste, and the only herbs (plural?) I could identify was over-dried oregano (is that thyme I see in the photo? mah.). The accompanying charred bread didn’t help its case.

We ordered two pastas: goat cheese agnolotti with burro fuso (melted butter), lemon, and sun-dried peppers (pictured at top); as well as spaghetti all’amatriciana with lamb pancetta and provolone piccante. The agnolotti (essentially egg ravioli stuffed with goat cheese) were well made, but the sauce was a lemon avalanche, with a pungency not far off from Lemonhead candy. On a positive note, the toasted bread crumbs gave the dish interesting texture. (Did I just reach for a high point with bread crumbs?)


I’m not sure what version of amatriciana Carmellini is making, but it’s certainly not traditional. This Roman dish is usually made with paper-thin slices of lard-heavy guanciale (cured pork cheek or jowl) that melts into a delicate coating on the pasta. Here, chewy strips of what seemed to be gamey lamb salami stomped around on a simple tomato sauce, and there must have been an entire onion in our dish alone, as leftover slices pooled at the bottom of the bowl.


The only redeeming dish was the Locanda Salad–bitter greens, sundried cherries, hazelnuts, and slices of speck (smoked prosciutto)–a meal unto itself and a harmonious mix of ingredients. But, alas, woman cannot live on salad alone.

Make good use of the coffee and pastry bar

Lesson learned: Go straight for the coffee and pastry bar.

Other NYC restaurant reviews:
Minetta Tavern: I Don’t Get It
Colicchio & Sons: What’s New Is Old
Eleven Madison Park: French Laundry Wanna-Be
Peter Luger v. Strip House: The Steak-Off
Motorino v. Kesté: Neapolitan Pizza Pie-Off
Maialino: Danny Meyer Does It Again
Marea: Do Your Homework
Great Jones Cafe: Best Wings In The City
Apiary: Hidden Gem
Seäsonal Restaurant & Weinbar: Who Knew?
Brooklyn’s Fatty ’Cue: Malaysian BBQ
La Esquina: VIP Mexican Food?

Apr. 26 2010 |
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