Meatballs drowning in tomato sauce. Chicken cutlet sizzling beneath gobs of oozing cheese. Sound good? Of course it does. But though it’s the soul of New York comfort food, it’s the exact thing you won’t find at Barchetta, chef Dave Pasternack’s and restaurateur John Meadow’s (of LDV Hospitality) latest contribution to Italian fare in Manhattan.
Situated on 23rd Street near 10th Avenue, Barchetta instead takes its cue from the Italian phrase fatto da sole, its literal translation being “made by the sun.” That means bright tomatoes, citrus-infused olive oils and plenty of fresh seafood or crudo—raw fish dressed with lemon or lime (the Mediterranean’s answer to sashimi).
Given that barchetta means “little boat,” Chef Pasternack (of Esca fame) buys his meat from local fishermen to get the freshest product possible. To start out, have a flight of crudo (you can choose six different fish), and follow it with the polipo alla galicia—delectably charred octopus with smoked peppers, potatoes and red onion. For primi, there’s the fettuccine with fresh lobster, English peas and sorrel—you’ll never again feel satisfied by the traditional, alfredo version. Next, the orata americana, a whole grilled porgy garnished with rosemary and capers. While this doesn’t leave much room for dessert, order it anyway. The rhubarb tart will send you to heaven in one bite.
The restaurant’s food speaks for itself, but the ambience is also tasteful. Designer Chris Sheffield sourced the wooden tabletops from an 1840s Pennsylvania farm and bought the seating from an Amsterdam elementary school, melding urban rustic with midcentury modern decor. And though it has its maritime moments, it also pays homage to Chelsea’s artistic community with wall works by Alexandra Posen (Zac’s sister) and Eddie Milstein, among others. The overall effect is that Barchetta, now only a few months old, already feels like a neighborhood staple.