We live in a green era. It's hard to remember that less than a decade ago, New York City was still a town dominated by black and white. While wardrobes are still city chic, these days green technology and trends are on every one's mind. Well, I've discovered a new kind of green - Locanda Verde - Tribeca's very own Green Inn. And even if this green establishment isn't necessarily focused on saving the environment, I can promise that in the food world it's mission is worth your time. After winning a Michelin star at one of my favorite Italian spots A Voce, chef Andrew Carmellini has decided to head south and share his talents in an even more enjoyable way. This spot is actually affordable without compromising the high culinary standards of its predecessor.
Locanda Verde is located below the Greenwich Hotel and marks Robert DeNiro's second restaurant attempt in this space. As most actors recognize, a second take is often just what they need. This reincarnation is here to stay - appealing in both atmosphere and setting. It's hard to believe that it's so hard to get a reservation in such a massive space. But, as soon as you taste the homemade foccacio soaked with fresh tomatoes and olive oil served in place of a traditional bread basket, you may actually wonder how you managed to score your seat. If you really are struggling with a reservation, I recommend dining at the bar or at least enjoying a drink in this trendy tavern.
This place is meant for groups. There are so many excellent options on the menu and all are suitable for sharing. Even the crostinis are nicely portioned and great for splitting. I recommend the blue crab crostini with jalapeno and tomato. While both the arugula and local tomato salads are excellent, there were two starters that I cannot get out of my mind. The lamb meatball sliders with caprino (a goat's cheese) and cucumber as well as the crispy artichokes with yogurt and mint are musts. I've had many fried artichokes in my day and these are the best I have ever had. They are perfectly crisp and served with pickled red peppers as well as an excellent sauce, perfect for foccacia dipping. The sliders are also different from any that I have tried as both the flavorful meat and the mini brioche bun stood out in my mind.
It was hard to decide on a pasta dish as a variety of all of my favorite traditional dishes are offered on the menu. We went with the homemade pappardelle with lamb bolognese, mint and ricotta and were not disappointed by these large, homemade flat noodles. Lamb is certainly a strength in this kitchen. But, the surprising winner of the entire night was the fire roasted garlic chicken for two, which (this is really no secret) can actually be ordered for one and it's still more than enough food! The flavors in this dish are out of this world. I know I'm not alone in feeling that chicken is probably the least exciting option when eating out. However, this dish proves that Andrew Carmellini has made it his very own mission to serve chicken worth leaving home and running for - and, mission accomplished! While the pistachio brown butter cake is their signature dessert, we opted for the lemon tart with buttermilk gelato and limoncello granita. For lemon chess fans, the gelato is an excellent twist to this traditional dish.
Whether it's your mission to save the planet or serve the perfect chicken, my hat's off to you - you are helping my world either way! Green is definitely on the mind. Just make sure you consider all shades and uses of the color - and venture to Tribeca where the latest cause has certainly left a mark.
377 Greenwich St. (@ N. Moore)
New York, NY 10013
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):