Spasso Relations 

A fresh take on Italian in the West Village 
| New York City   Dining | Nick Fauchald

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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

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Spasso 551 Hudson St. New York NY 10014 212-858-3838
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