Quartino Bottega Organica
11 Bleecker Street
City: New York, NY
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Organic
Area: East Village
Entree Price: $10-15
Every year, when the weather finally warms up and I realize that I have unveil some parts of my body that have been hidden by bulky winter clothing, I resolve to shed those extra pounds by eating healthier and lighter food. In that hopeful spirit, I decided to dine at Quartino, a charming sliver of a restaurant devoted to organic food that I had passed by on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, due to the kitchen’s surer-than-sure hands with bread and pasta (organic, yes, but not low-calorie), I probably didn’t aid my cause. But I had a deliciously good time anyway.
The house takes its organic creed so seriously that it extends it to the beverage options. My dining companion and I skipped the many organic wines on tap to concentrate on healthier fruit juices. The organic lemonade was nicely tart (I added just a dash of sugar), while the organic plum juice, cut with a little bit of sparkling water, was a little too pungent for our tastes. If you’re planning to get into a bikini or swimming trunks any time soon, ask the server not to bring the plate of addictive whole wheat bread and breadsticks – or at the very least, don’t ask for seconds like we did! We otherwise started the meal in a much more virtuous fashion by splitting a springy-fresh salad of arugula, parmigiano, pear, and walnuts in a pleasingly light dressing. For our mains, I was enthralled with excellent gnocchi in just the right amount of ultra-fresh tomato sauce, while my friend was equally thrilled with a brown rice risotto made with asparagus and parmigiano. It was so tasty, in fact, that it made me reconsider how much I usually despise brown rice. There are also whole wheat pizzas, assorted other pastas, and a fish of a day as alternative entrée options.
Our resolve having already crumbled, we gave into dessert. Luckily, the pear cake – a spongy almost-angel food-like creation studded with sliced pears -- was relatively healthful (if you don’t count the two small scoops of gelato that accompanied it) and utterly satisfying. In fact, that’s the perfect way to describe Quartino.
Review By: Brian Scott Lipton