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NYC’s Locanda Verde: Swing and a Miss

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locanda-verde-agnolotti
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.

locanda-verde-sheeps-milk-ricotta

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?)

locanda-verde-spaghetti

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.

locanda-verde-salad

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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