L’Artusi is by far my favorite Italian in New York City. It always has a safe spot on my top-5 list of favorite West Village restaurants (along with my first love Joseph Leonard). I love it so much I even moved right across the street from it. I guess I cannot make it any more clear!
The L’Artusi love is pretty universal. It’s been a NYC staple for Italian-American food ever since it opened in 2008, which explains why getting a dinner reservation there that’s not at 5:30pm nor 10:30pm is never an easy task.
What makes L’Artusi so special is the perfect combo of great food, vibe, wine, service, and let me insist on consistency. I’m always more keen to discover new restaurants in town but I will always be up for a meal at l’Artusi because it’s just consistently good. And conveniently across the street 😉 . I never get sick of it. Not many restaurants you can say that about huh? (except of course for you Joseph! ♥)
When you walk in, the venue is pretty dark but lighting and atmosphere improve as you step inside. L’Artusi has two floors, upstairs being a tad quieter than downstairs. Note that they can also accommodate private dining in their wine cellar room, perfect for corporate dinners or special events for large parties.
The decor is modern and what I like to call simple-chic. The bar scene is always busy and the overall noise level is pretty loud but not overwhelmingly so. I personally never bother with a reservation and prefer to walk in and wait by the bar or leave my contact information for them to call when a table is ready. If you are a party of 2, sit at the bar which offers around 30 seats that are conveniently reserved for walk-ins only. Perfect for dates of various stage of progression 😉 .
Sit at the counter by the open kitchen. If you’re lucky you might even get complimentary tastings by the sous-chefs!
Now onto the food. Basically, you cannot go wrong with anything on the menu – everything is delicious. The food is clearly more upscale than your everyday Italian but you’ll be impressed by its classic simplicity and flavor. The dinner menu is divided by different sections, a Crudo selection (changes seasonally) , Vegetables, Pastas and Entrees (fish and meat dishes).
The best is to mix it up and share all the plates, but if you have to choose my advice is to focus on the pasta. Every pasta dish is al dente perfection, cooked with a lot of buttery and EVOO goodness. My personal favorite is the Spaghetti with garlic, chilies and parmesan ($18) – super simple yet so decadent. Same for the Bucatini ($19) and the Orecchiette with Sausage ($20). Crudos ($16) are always light and fresh. Under the Verduras section, the Roasted Mushroom with pancetta and fried egg ($17) is a must, as are the Brussel sprouts. Entrées (from $18 to $30) are also all tasty, the Quail being a popular favorite. And look out for the daily specials, they’re always top notch.
If you must, the Entrees are the dishes that can be skipped. And most importantly… leave some room for the iconic Olive Oil Cake ($10). By far the-best-Olive-Oil-Cake-you’ll-ever-have. Perfectly moist and fluffy with a perfect combination of sweet and salty.
Pair your meal with their crazy extensive, exclusively Italian wine list, perfectly curated by the beverage director genius Joe Campanale (who is also the co-owner of all Epicurean Management restaurants). L’Artusi has a great selection from nearly every region of the boot and for every budget. A cocktail menu is also available, but I always stick to wine.
If I have to find a tiny flaw, the only con would be that the menu does not change that much, but why change perfection? And they can sometimes be a bit heavy on the salt.
– They easily makes substitutions for vegetarians.
– Open every day for dinner and offers a killer brunch menu on Sunday only.
– Look out for celebrities spotting! Brooke Shields lives right next door and is a regular. Brooke, we’re neighbors!
L’Artusi you deserve a Michelin star! <3