The West Village boasts many things: charming, tree-lined, twisty streets, high-end fashion boutiques and a smattering of distinctive restaurants that deserve a visit.
Operated by a husband-and-wife team, Don Angie blends American comfort food with the precision and delicacy of Italian fare. Leafy chrysanthemum greens are showered with parmesan, garlic and sesame for a riff on caesar salad. The lasagna for two – thick-cut sheets of pasta rolled into delicate roses and swiped with tomato sauce, cheese and hunks of meat – is served bubbling in a cavernous ceramic dish. There’s an assortment of other dishes, too, like stuffed garlic flatbread and charred octopus – all prepared in a cozy space on the corner of Greenwich Avenue.
Thanks to the West Village’s maze-like streets, you’d almost miss I Sodi. At the helm is Rita Sodi, a self-taught chef who boasts an extensive West Village empire (including Buvette and Via Carota). I Sodi is crafted out of her mother’s Tuscan cooking – the beloved lasagna is a soaring structure of soft sheets of pasta offset with meat sauce, and the branzino is simply grilled, its supple meat a confluence of lemon and olive oil straight from Sodi’s property in Florence. The bar program is wonderfully dizzying: eight riffs on the negroni, plus a wine list as thick as the lasagna.
Formerly a chophouse helmed by Graydon Carter, The Beatrice Inn has morphed into a carnivore’s paradise. The subterranean restaurant is owned by Angie Mar, whose love of meat has catapulted it from a boys’ club into civilized ambience, rife with platters of rib eye and glittering vintage silverware. The move here is meat, and lots of it: cherrywood-smoked pork chops, mutton stroganoff and 90-day dry-aged porterhouse, all to be shared at the table.
It’s not too often a restaurant can seemingly catapult you to a dock on the ocean – one shepherding out gargantuan, buttery lobster rolls and oyster po’boys – without leaving the comfort of a city. That’s Mary’s Fish Camp: a quaint fish shack on a brownstone-lined West Village corner. Expect shrimp burgers and fish tacos, alongside seared sea scallops and shellfish bouillabaisse, served with charred bread primed to chase after runaway mussels.
With its brick-lined walls, bottles of red wine shelved in the narrow dining room, and long, sweeping bar fronted by experienced baristas, Buvette serves as the neighborhood’s go-to for weekend brunch – or simply for a glass of wine in the hidden garden. Helmed by chef Jody Williams, who boasts a growing number of restaurants in the neighborhood, the all-day French gastrothèque opens at 7am and doesn’t close until 2am, crafting flaky croissants, steamed eggs painted with pink smoked salmon and crème fraiche and other French bistro standards like coq au vin and ratatouille topped with dollops of goat cheese.
This Japanese izakaya, squeezed in a hallway of a space, blends charcoal-grilled fare with elevated tasting menus. A sprinkling of tables lines the entry, with a bar and open kitchen tucked in the back, complete with two chefs grilling crimson whole prawns and delicately slicing beef culotte. The seasonally changing, eight-course tasting menu might include soft, home-made tofu and a smattering of yakitori (think rounds of chicken and duck speared on wooden sticks and cooked over fire), with a sake pairing available. There are a handful of à la carte dishes as well, like grilled white sea eel and enormous pucks of onigiri, with spicy miso and red shiso jammed inside.
Dominique Ansel rose to fame after debuting his viral Cronut – a croissant-donut hybrid, in case you’re not familiar – but at his second project, there’s not a Cronut in sight. Instead, the pastry chef focused on developing a French bakery that highlights all kinds of desserts. There are beautifully laminated, swirled croissants, made-to-order desserts like sage-smoked brownies and warm hazelnut madeleines, a smattering of cakes and tarts and savory fare, including edamame avocado toast. In the warmer months, a soft-serve counter pops open on Seventh Avenue, attracting ice-cream lovers to his esoteric creations: burrata soft serve piped with dark balsamic caramel and micro basil.
Fret not that Via Carota is walk-in only and often has insufferable wait times. It’s all part of the charm at this enchanting Italian restaurant that puts just as much heart into the kitchen’s slew of vegetables as into the house-made pasta. A rainbow of carrots arrives glistening under spiced yogurt and a dusting of pistachios; raw artichokes are brightened with mint and orange. Pastas are simple but elegant: hand-pinched tortelli stuffed with smoked ricotta; ribbons of tonnarelli swirled with cheese and pepper. Choose from a smattering of Italian wines to pair with lunch or dinner, or opt for one of the five kinds of negronis.
Barbuto is crafted out of a former industrial garage and still has that distinctive look and feel: tables and chairs are scattered in the loft-like space in view of the open kitchen, surrounded by garage window panes that open up when the weather gets warm. Here, chef Jonathan Waxman flaunts his characteristic California cuisine: puffy sweet-potato gnocchi slick with pesto; charred chicken painted with salsa verde; and slivers of raw brussels sprouts flush with almonds and kumquat.
Whether you’ve arrived at L’Artusi for a date night, a glass of wine at the bar or to fulfill your hankering for pasta, the swanky, dimly lit Italian restaurant aims to please. The smartly suited staff delivers platters of roasted mushrooms crowned with fried eggs, ribbons of bucatini swirled with pancetta and salty pecorino, and a whole squid flanked by hot Italian sausage, while the expert sommeliers guide you through the thick, Italian-focused wine list. Reservations can be hard to come by, but parties of two are often quickly seated at the bar.
The eponymous Nakazawa was once an apprentice of Jiro Ono, the sushi authority from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. His New York City restaurant specializes in a pricey 20-course omakase, which changes depending on the fish provided by the fisherman. There might be wisps of sockeye or translucent snapper, soft Japanese sea urchin and spongy tamago. Sitting at the sushi counter provides a close-up encounter with all the action (and a higher price tag), but there are a handful of tables as well (where the omakase is slightly cheaper).