Monday, March 21, 2011
Brunch Bets: Barbuto
I've wanted to eat at Jonathan Waxman's West Village restaurant Barbuto for quite some time. Problem was, I've never been able to get dinner reservations. Credited with introducing "California cuisine" to Manhattan from his time at the famous Chez Panisse, Waxman has become a celebrity chef in his own right, even making an appearance on Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters. Finally, my futility ended after a co-worker suggested I try brunch, when reservations are much easier to come by.
Located in a converted garage space on Washington Street, Barbuto is Waxman's version of an Italian bistro serving seasonally-driven rustic fare. Blessed with large garage doors and large windows, the restaurant was filled with natural light that provided a perfect glimpse into the open kitchen. While the restaurant typically opens these doors during warmer weather, it was still cold so the doors were closed. It really felt as if you were dining inside garage, rather than a restaurant. Our server arrived with menus and a bowl of Mixed Olives as we placed our orders for some much needed Lazzo Coffee.
After spying nearly every table in the restaurant sporting a plate of assorted cured meats, YC practically insisted we do likewise. To begin our meal, we shared an order of Salumi which consisted of: Prosciutto di San Danielle, Sweet Coppa and Cacciatorini served with a Rosemary Focaccia. Seeing how we all are big fans of sliced meats, we happily mixed and matched the various meats with the chewy focaccia and salty olives.
While we noshed on our plate-o-meat, the kitchen was busy preparing the remainder of our brunch. Choosing to share everything, MW ordered the restaurant's signature dish, Jonathan Waxman's famous Pollo al Forno with Salsa Verde. An obvious choice really, the chicken was incredibly moist, and contained a subtle smokey flavor from the wood burning oven. Paired with a piquant salsa verde and lemon wedge, we all agreed that Waxman's chicken was as good as advertised.
I ordered the lone pasta option on the brunch menu, the Linguitine alla Carbonara. A mixture of Pancetta, Black Pepper and a Farmhouse Egg, Waxman's version contained all of the ingredients found in a typical carbonara and was merely good, not great. The pasta was rich, but not sickeningly so, and I appreciated the inclusion of a raw egg yolk that I was able to mix into the dish myself. That being said, a combination of slightly overcooked pasta, flaccid pancetta and lack of black pepper kept this dish from being great.
But what is brunch without eggs? So we split was the Prosciutto con Uovo or Italian Ham, Fried Egg, Arugula and Toast. There wasn't anything too particularly Italian about this dish (prosciutto being the exception), but it was good nonetheless. Perfectly fried eggs with runny yolks and crispy, salty prosciutto was a sinful combination, balanced wonderfully by the peppery arugula salad.
Staying with a more traditional brunch theme, we also chose to split a side of Patate, or Crispy Potatoes with Pecorino and Rosemary. Substantially more crisp than your garden variety home fries, these were outstanding. With their fluffy innards, these potatoes were wonderfully seasoned with the nutty pecorino and earthy rosemary. It may be the best iteration of this iconic brunch staple I've ever had.
Despite just being brunch, we still felt that our meal was representative of the food Barbuto is capable of producing. With only a few minor miscues, overall, our brunch was very good, with the menu offering some atypical options not always associated with this weekend meal, making Barbuto a fine destination for brunch.
775 Washington Street
New York, NY 10014
To see all the pictures from this meal click HERE.