775 Washington Street
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 924-9700
Fax: (212) 924-9300
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Mediterranean
Area: Greenwich Village
Entree Price: $20-25
Wildly busy, noisy and energetic are hallmarks of Barbuto, a Jonathan Waxman restaurant that packs in an attractive trending-young set in the West Village. Barbuto (that means beard in Italian--probably because Waxman sports one) is bare bones-looking fronted with a large garage door that opens in warm weather to spill into a sidewalk cafe. The place is all hard edges, hence the decibel level and very hip with a small menu of well-prepared, delicious food.
Offerings are limited and change frequently. The kale salad with a breadcrumb-anchovy dressing was spot on as was the tagliatelle in a rich, if a tiny bit over salted, ragu. Don't like kale and want a starter salad? Try the one with red beets or the escarole or go for bruschetta, often with a seafood topping. Three or four pastas are usually available as is a risotto, all under the primi banner. For secondi, try the jw chicken, recently served with salsa verde, a couple of fish entrees such as ocean trout with fingerling spuds and a cod dish sparkling with Meyer lemon. Lamb shows up as does beef, in bright renditions with stylish accompaniments and there are contorni, veggie sides such as Brussels sprouts with sherry vinegar, cheese selections (two kinds for $10; four for $20.)
My dessert was the lemon torta with a nut flour that I think was hazelnut (my companion thinks pistachio) and we both thought terrific. There is a small, well chosen wine list with glasses running in the mid-teen price range and bottles, some in the hundreds and a few for $50 or so. Designer beers, sparkling wines and cocktails including a jw Margarita are available.
Service is highly professional with waitstaff in black T's adorned with the restaurant's logo and black and white striped aprons. Napkins are also black, the better to not shed white fibers on your clothes, my dear.
Private groups up to twelve can book the private space; I saw a happy family with friends eating here.
California-born Waxman has been considered a top chef for some time with numerous restaurants. a mentor to others; author of several cookbooks, most recently Italian, My Way and a 2013 nominee as a James Beard Best Chef New York City. It's been reported that the Barbuto space has been sold leaving the restaurant's future in some doubt but Waxman is undoubtedly several steps ahead with his plans. Meanwhile, Barbuto is a great spot with original Italian-inspired food. You may have trouble hearing your dining companions but your mouth will be otherwise happily occupied.
Review By: Mari Gold