il Buco Alimentari & Vineria has been on my list for a while and I went with my friend Val for a girl’s night out. We were supposed to be four of us but one friend had a charity event and the other was sick so Val and I went alone. They sat us at the bar which we were not too excited about (I prefer tables) but in the wend it worked out perfectly and the bartenders were friendly and nice and they serve the same menu so we didn’t have any restrictions from what we could order.
As usual, I was having FOMIN and debated if we should go to il Buco Alimentari or Bar Primi (http://barprimi.com/) which I am also dying to try (and it’s a block away) but when I walked into il Buco Alimentari, I knew we were staying as the place is adorable. It is a mix of restaurant and food shop as they sell gelato, cheese, jams etc and amazing breads. The gelato is even made by them.
What we ate:
Crispy Artichokes with preserved lemon: they say this is their signature dish with several small fried baby artichokes that look like pretty fried flowers. They are crispy and yummy and addictive but of course greasy (you can see on the picture of the single artichoke on a plate).
Roasted Gnocchi with artichokes, summer chanterelle: housemade gnocchi was the best of the main courses. The issue is the ones I had recently at Estela (http://www.samstewartetc.com/estela-nyc) and Fera (http://www.samstewartetc.com/fera-claridges) were even better so it was a bit unfair. I thought it could have used more mushrooms as they were almost invisible.
Bucatini Cacio e Pepe: very traditional roman staple with pecorino Romano and black pepper. It is one of the most simple pastas and not usually a must order for me but Val had never tried and was curious about it. It was straightforward and good. The pasta was very al-dente – on the verge of under cooked but I prefer that. Next time I would try the pasta with the meat ragu. I didn’t push for it as Val doesn’t eat red meat and the one I had at Vernick in Philly (http://www.samstewartetc.com/vernick-review-best-food-philly/) the previous night was impossible to beat.
Japanese sweet potatoes with sheep’s milk ricotta salata: this was a new addition to the menu according to our bartender and was absolutely delicious. The sweet potatoes were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the sweetness and slight caramalization paired perfectly with the salty ricotta salata. Very good.
Migliaccio (semolina cake, ricotta, citrus): our bartender described this as a delicious cake, that tastes like it was made by your grandmother. That would be a bit impossible as my Hungarian grandmother wouldn’t have made a typical Italian ricotta cake but it gave me a different image than what it was. I expected a nice semolina cake and this was more ricotta and less semolina so was a very dense cheesecake with orange slivers and an orange syrup on top. Not my favorite dessert but I don’t love citrus on my sweets…..my fault for not focusing on the fact it did say citrus on the menu).
Gelati: we had the sampler that allowed us to choose three flavors. We chose the very obvious chocolate, the very trendy salted caramel and the classic Italian favourite (and mine) hazelnut. The chocolate was creamy, rich, intense and perfect. Val and Ilka (who arrived and surprised us at dessert) loved the salted caramel which left hazelnut for me to devour alone, and it was a very fine specimen of nocciola gelato.
In Sum: very casual and fun vibe and solid Italian food. A perfect place for a nice catch up with friends. I still love the food at L’Artusi better when it comes to Italian and since I am not in NY often, on the very few nights I am visiting I would go back to L’Artusi (http://www.samstewartetc.com/new-york-lartusi/) or try Bar Primi before returning to il Buco Alimentari.
il Buco Alimentari & Vineria http://www.ilbucovineria.com/
53 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012, United States