A fresh take on Italian in the West Village
A couple of weeks ago, we made a quiet resolution not to cover any more new Italian restaurants unless they are truly noteworthy. Like many of you, the recent spate of Italianate openings has carbo-overloaded us into boredom.
With this in mind, let us introduce you to Spasso.
This new 65-seat West Village restaurant offers the seemingly impossible--a fresh approach to primi, secondi and the like--without resorting to gimmicks or trends.
Take a sit at the kitchen counter and order a Manhattan Invertito, a genius cocktail (click here to download the recipe) that flips the standard whiskey-vermouth formula on its head and provides a hint at what follows on the menu.
There, chef Craig Wallen--who spent the past six years in the space that housed L'Impero and now Convivio--takes traditional Italian preparations and ingredients and shuffles the deck. His riceless arancini ($7) are filled instead with creamy eggplant, offering the crunchy satisfaction of an eggplant parm in miniature.
Trout (not veal) gets the prosciutto-wrapped saltimbocca treatment ($22), and a breadless, kale-heavy ribollita ($8) isn't so much soup as it is a fulfilling braised vegetable dish.
Pastas, painstakingly made by hand using such tools as a chitarra and a hand-cranked extruder, are offered in minimalist preparations, such as orecchiette with rock shrimp and crab ($20) or bigoli with butter, chiles and Parmigiano ($14), which pay respect to the excellent noodles at hand.
With 30-some dishes on offer, it'll take you a few visits to explore the menu. Don't worry: You won't get bored.
Spasso, 551 Hudson St. (at Perry St.); 212-858-3838 or spassonyc.com