For my birthday this year, the Count and I went to L’Artusi- an Italian restaurant located in the West Village. We walked in to a dimly lit restaurant with neo-regency decor consisting of dark blue walls and white trims. A long 30 seat bar lined the wall with polished white marble and handsome friendly bartenders decorating the other end. The restaurant is two floors with a small and intimate dining area on both floors. We were taken to our seats at the bar- typically our favorite spot in a restaurant to dine.
The wine list at L’Artusi is extensive mostly made up of Italian wines ranging from region and price (see wine list). We ordered a bottle of the 2008 Antonelli Sagrantino “Contrario” ($70)- a wine from Italy’s Umbria region. The region is known for its Sagrantino (a tannic grape that creates long-lived wines). Antonelli wines, especially the one we tried at dinner, are lush, deep and full bodied.
As with most of my dining experiences, I had already researched the menu and knew exactly what I wanted to order. We started out with a few starters to share including the cheese plate and the roasted mushrooms (see menu).
The roasted mushroom dish was out of this world. A mix of mushrooms, pancetta, ricotta salata topped with a runny egg yolk. I loved the mix of flavors- you could say it tasted like a mushroom omelet served Italian style. The runny egg mixed with the cheese and mushrooms led to a creamy and delectable dish.
Of course the pasta came next. Gabe Thompson- executive chef/part owner of L’Artusi is famous for his hand made pasta. We ordered the potato gnocchi and the bucatini pasta. We decided to stick with the pasta and skip the meats as most have recommended the restaurant based on their pasta and wines (although I really did want to try the quail).
The potato gnocchi was very good topped with a lot of Parmesan cheese. The handmade gnocchi was one of the best I’ve had. It was the sauce that I was not a big fan of. The ragu sauce had a sweet aftertaste to it. I’m not sure what the sweet ingredient was but I definitely preferred the Count’s Bucatini sauce. Usually, he would have switched his dish with mine but this time he was too into his meal to even care about my discontent. Oh well. I carried on eating.
The Bucatini pasta definitely won the best dish of the night for us. It was the first time I had Bucatini- a hollow pasta similar to spaghetti. The sauce consisted of a mixture of tomatoes, pancetta and spices- and tasted exactly what a pasta sauce in my mind should taste like.
Dessert consisted of a pumpkin flavored tiramisu- a chocolate chip pumpkin bread infused with espresso-rum syrup topped with ricotta and brown sugar.
The service was impeccable. Our bartender/server was extremely friendly and went out of his way to suggest wines and dishes to accommodate us. After he saw that I was unhappy with my gnocchi he asked if there was anything wrong. I only said that I preferred the sauce from the other dish better. Five minutes later a server brought out a side bowl of the sauce for me. It was unbelievable and made me very happy.