Il Buco

Perfect day for lunching alfresco!

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I arrived at the restaurant on the early side, so I got a chance to browse. I was surprised to find a rustic interior, with farmhouse details.  The space felt cozy and homey, not at all what I had imagined for this upscale restaurant…but in a good way.  If it wasn't such a beautiful day outside, I would have chosen to dine "in".

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The appetizers were small in portion, average in taste, and way overpriced!  I mean, $19 for 4 measly prawns?!  The prawn shells didn't even peel off easily, which made me think that something wasn't quite right…  

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The housemade pappardelle with porcini mushroom was fresh, light, and tasty. 

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The risotto tasted more like Asian rice than Italian risotto. The portion was big, but it didn't have much flavor. 

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The star of the meal was definitely the chicken. Moist and full of flavor. 

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Verdict:  A.  I was a bit disappointed with the food here. I love Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, the more casual sister restaurant to Il Buco, so I assumed the original Il Buco would be even better.  Maybe my expectations were too high...  While I love the atmosphere of Il Buco, I much prefer the food at Il Buco Alimentari.   

Il Buco
47 Bond Street (Between Bowery & Lafayette)
http://www.ilbuco.com

Bar Primi

I have been meaning to check out this new restaurant on Bowery for quite some time now.  Even from the outside, I could sense the lively, yet casual and relaxed vibe of the restaurant.  

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The large windows are perfect for taking in the summer breeze.

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I got the ricotta bruschetta with figs and Sardinian honey to start. This should have been an amazing bite, but somehow it fell flat. The fig was really fresh, but the ricotta was meh and I could hardly taste the honey. 

My main, Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, was also a disappointment. There was no flavor to the dish. A complete fail! Maybe I should have listened to the bartender, who tried to sway me away from the Orecchiette in favor of Fiore di Carciofi - artichoke filled pasta with smoked bacon and pecorino - and Campanelle with corn, maitake mushrooms.  Afterall, he was spot on in his wine suggestion. 

The dessert - fresh organic peaches topped with fiori di latte gelato, drizzled with sangria sauce - saved the day!  It was light, refreshing, and perfect for the summer!

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Verdict: A-. The food left much to be desired...but maybe I didn't order the right dishes. I am willing to give the place another try because I really do love its atmosphere. Perhaps this eatery is better suited for drinks (I did see the bartender make some seriously good looking cocktails) and snacks at the bar, rather than a full meal. 

Bar Primi
325 Bowery (Between 2nd & 3rd St.)
http://barprimi.com

All'onda

The narrow, bi-level All'onda sits on a pretty unattractive block of 13th Street. I was actually a bit scared of what I would find.  Not too impressed by the space on the ground floor, I was surprised to find an airy and bright upper level.  The big picture window at the front of the space gave the room some much needed character and light.

Came to this restaurant specifically for the pasta dishes.  Both of the pasta dishes, cooked al dente, did not disappoint.  The Lumache with duck ragu was nice and hearty.  There was only a hint of the dark chocolate in the dish. Not overpowering at all. 

LUMACHE WITH AGED DUCK RAGU, TREVISO, CHOCOLATE

LUMACHE WITH AGED DUCK RAGU, TREVISO, CHOCOLATE

The Garganelli with peekytoe crab had a completely different palate.  There's something in the sauce that gave this lighter dish a welcomed spicy kick. The crunchy breadcrumbs on top added more texture to the dish. 

GARGANELLI WITH PEEKYTOE CRAB, CITRUS, TARRAGON

GARGANELLI WITH PEEKYTOE CRAB, CITRUS, TARRAGON

Verdict: A+.  Overall, I think we ordered quite well.  The two dishes complemented each other nicely.  The space, although a bit blah, was at least quiet and conducive to conversations.  

All'onda
22 East 13th Street (Between University Place & 5th Avenue)
http://allondanyc.com

Minetta Tavern

This dimly lit, old-school institution is the perfect spot for grabbing late night drinks or dinner. I was here years ago when Minetta first reopened and reservations were near impossible to get.  I have to say, I like the restaurant much better now. More relaxed. Less pretentious. 

Expert cocktails at the bar while we waited for our table.

Expert cocktails at the bar while we waited for our table.

We hadn't planned on having a huge steak at 11pm, but we when saw this beauty (the gentleman who was sitting next to us at the bar was having this dish), we couldn't resist.

Bone-In NY Strip

Bone-In NY Strip

We even got the same mushroom side dish, which was equally yummy.

Sautéed Mushroom

Sautéed Mushroom

Their signature Black Label Burger, the reason for our late night visit, was much better than I remembered!

Black Label Burger

Black Label Burger

Not sure where we found room in our stomachs for dessert, but I am glad we did.  The soufflé was very light, with only a hint of the grand marnier. 

Grand Marnier Soufflé 

Grand Marnier Soufflé 

Minetta Tavern
113 Macdougal Street (Between Bleecker St. & West 3rd St.)
http://www.minettatavernny.com

Verdict: AA

Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria

I love this casual, rustic version of Il Buco.  I was in the neighborhood and had a craving Italian food, so decided to pop in for a quick lunch at the bar. 

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The soft pillowy Gnocchi have slighty crispy outer layer, which gave them amazing texture. 

Roasted Gnocchi with Mushrooms, and Grated Cheese on top,

Roasted Gnocchi with Mushrooms, and Grated Cheese on top,

A scoop of Salted Caramel Gelato completes the meal. 

Salted Caramel Gelato 

Salted Caramel Gelato 

Verdict: AA+.  Love this casual eatery! The freshness and the quality of the ingredients really shine through on each dish. 

Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
53 Great Jones Street (Between Bowery & Lafayette)
http://www.ilbucovineria.com