Italian food in New York is SO GOOD! It was the only cuisine I had twice during the trip. Both plates of pasta I had were a savoury plate with perfectly al dente pasta with a fresh, handmade feeling to it. At the same time there was something about the full-bodied sauces accompanying the pasta without reaching cloyingly rich that you would want to stop midway. Remarkable.
Barbuto is a laid back, rustic Italian restaurant occupying a garage in the West Village. Just around the corner from my hotel, I came across it on a Wednesday night when the open-air restaurant was so packed, it was hard to miss. Once I got back to the hotel, a quick google search showed it was extremely popular for its Roasted Chicken & Salsa Verde. It is so famous the recipe is on NY Times. That sealed the deal for me.
The next afternoon, on an unusually warm November afternoon in NYC, I made full use of the weather and sat right at the edge of the restaurant hoping to people watch throughout my meal. That didn’t happen. I was so captivated by Barbuto’s food that I didn’t notice my surroundings.
Barbuto does half portions of their pasta. A relieved for a lone diner like me. Although not its most acclaimed pasta, I had my heart set on the Bucatini alla Carbonara: pancetta, farm egg & black pepper. For protein, the famed Pollo al Forno: jw* chicken & salsa verde.
Barbuto’s take on the classic carbonara was splendid. Easily one of my favourite dishes of the trip. Consisting of thick-tubed spaghetti, large chunky pieces of pancetta and just a little cream to ensure every strand was coated but not enough to drown the whole plate out.
Man oh man was this plate good! Thick chewy strands with some serious bite. I simply could not get enough. Then there were those salty pancetta. I wasn’t expecting thin slices but I sure wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the hunkiness. It did not feel like a cured meat but real ones. The cheesy egg yolk sauce combined every element perfectly. This was flat-out good.
The initial plan was to half of the plate of pasta and doggy-bagged the rest for dinner. Didn’t happen. I cleaned plate this gorgeous dish and doggy-bagged the huge chicken!
The Pollo al Forno arrived with a crackling gold skin. Simply roasted with olive oil and lemon. Every piece was oozing with juice. I could not get enough of the thin crunchy skin. The “salsa” is a mixture of basil, parsley, tarragon – which imparts a subtle licorice flavor, by the way – garlic, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. As good as they say!