Another Andrew Carmellini locale made our list. (And we promise it’s not because Jamie and Andrew worked together at Restaurant Daniel.) Locanda Verde fills the void of a restaurant that’s both welcoming and casual enough for after-work cocktails with friends and special enough for an “occasion” meal, like a birthday or long-awaited Date Night. Housed in Robert DeNiro’s TriBeCa Hotel, Locanda (as we downtown locals call it) specializes in rustic Italian that’s so good, you can’t get out of your head. It starts with the whipped sheep’s milk ricotta and grilled bread that we order immediately while we peruse the rest of the menu. The ricotta is housemade and whipped with just a touch of cream; after it hits the bowl, they drizzle it with green olive oil and finish with flakes of sea salt. We could order a bottle of wine, smear bowl after bowl of ricotta on the bread and call it a night. But, of course, we know that we’d be missing out on their foie gras crostini served with quince mostarda and slices of panettone. We’d also be neglecting our favorite simple salad, the Insalata D’Andrea, a beautiful plate of apple, fennel, marcona almonds and asiago. While Jamie usually enjoys a larger secondo (protein) course, we usually skip their cod, branzino and pork preparations and continue ordering small plates until our waiter raises an eyebrow that means, “Are you sure?”
We agree that the pastas and smaller plates are where Andrew and his team excel, like with the lamb meatball sliders and the steak tartar studded with hazelnuts, truffles and guanciale. There’s more insanely delicious squid ink linguine here (check out the Lafayette review) and an exceptional paccheri preparation that features a slow-braised, meaty ragu with spicy provolone cheese. While the flavors and dishes aren’t necessarily elegant, they’re loud and welcoming and, some nights, that’s a very good thing.