It's 5 pm on a Saturday night in New York. Two friends from out of town call letting you know they will be in the city and would love to see you for dinner. Would 8 pm work? While you can't wait to catch up with your friends, this is no simple request - especially for those of us who care about food. The current "go-to" restaurants are definitely out of the question. Opentable is booked - well, at least all the good options are taken. It's time to think about some of the old favorites - those spots that were always great, and are certainly (or rather, hopefully) still great. They are simply in the land of the forgotten. Although there was a quick moment of panic, I'm thankful for times like these when the forgotten can jump right back on the radar and take you back just a few years to some of your most memorable meals in the city.
A few weeks ago, it was Macelleria to the rescue. Four to five years ago, this was definitely on my list of "go-tos." I'll admit that I was a little nervous about any place where I was able to get a reservation at the eleventh hour. But the minute I walked in to a packed restaurant and bar, I was immediately put at ease. Little had changed and that was more than fine by me. The warmth of the brick walls and the festive decor made it even more perfect for our late fall dinner.
Macelleria is a rustic, Italian steakhouse - an extremely appealing setting among the many overpriced, trendy meatpacking options. And the menu matches perfectly with the atmosphere. We started with an iceberg wedge with gorgonzola and peppercorn dressing as well as the fried zucchini. The peppercorn added a nice kick to this basic dish, but it was the zucchini that I couldn't stay away from. The strips were so lightly fried and crispy - reminding me of Elio's, the best in my books. I was soon reminded that this was the first place where I tried wild boar meat and was pleased to see that my favorite pasta dish was still on the menu - pappardelle with wild boar sauce. The meat is so flavorful, setting it apart from any standard meat sauce. I also highly recommend the straw and hay tagliolini with peas and proscuitto for a richer, creamier option. While you cannot go wrong with any of the meat dishes, the simplicity of their fish preparations should not go overlooked. Be sure to look out for the special of the night which is usually baked with herbs and lemon and served over spinach.
Seeing old friends, indulging in hearty Italian food, and rediscovering an old favorite, it was a comforting night all around. While it could very well have been 2004, I did learn something new that night. I have no idea if this is a new addition or just something I hadn't observed on previous visits. Down in the basement, there is an even cozier, quaint area where a group of 20-30 were celebrating a festive occasion. And while I had just faced the last minute Saturday night dilemna a few hours earlier, I was reminded of the private space dilemna that we so often face in New York. Noted: Macelleria to the rescue for that situation too! It's always great to be reminded of the past, while learning something new.
48 Gansevoort St. (at Greenwich St.)
New York, NY 10014
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):