One of the things I love most about authentic Italian food is the flavor of the good-quality ingredients and how just using a few you can create flavorful and uncomplicated dishes.
Homemade pasta, with just a few ingredients can make a hearty, delicious and simple meal. And though it is hard to rival authentic Italian food eaten in Italy, I’ve had good luck finding it at places like Otto, Mercato and Aroma Osteria.
My recent visit to Il Buco proved yet again that you don’t necessarily have to travel to Italy in order to get it. In fact, dining at Il Buco, you would never know that you are not in Italy.
Il Buco’s history speaks loudly to me – as it’s a combination of flea market bric-a-brac and the love of Italian products. The dining room looked as if it was plucked right from a charming rustic trattoria in the middle of the Italian countryside; well-worn wooden tables, exposed beams, racks stacked with wine, copper pots suspended from the tin ceiling and old pottery scattered throughout. In a word, cozy.
Since this was a solo visit, I saddled up to the bar and proceeded to chat with both the bartender/server and the manager, who were both happy to chat, delightful and informative. The wine list is extensive, and there are a good amount of tempting Italian reds and whites by the glass. This day I chose red.
Delicious country bread was brought to me with a dish of pure, golden olive oil, fresh from Umbria and I decided to try an appetizer of marinated olives with rosemary and lemon zest, which didn’t disappoint. I was happy to fish out a few niçoise, my favorites.
I was excited to learn that they served half portions of pasta, which worked out perfectly since I was alone, not too hungry and not wanting to schlep leftovers around all day. I decided on the special – Pappardelle, handmade egg pasta, with pork sugo and rosemary.
The pasta, cooked perfectly to al dente, were delicate, golden ribbons of goodness and the sauce was just right – not too rich and not too overpowering for the pasta. Pasta shouldn’t be swimming in sauce.
Convinced I was too full for dessert, my server announced that they had homemade gelato and my favorite – nocciola was on offer. How could I resist? The fig sounded equally interesting, so rather than try to decide, I ordered both!
To avoid the flavors not mixing well in the same bowl, a separate dish of each arrived. Both were some of the best I’ve tasted. As I was about to leave, bloated and satisfied, the staff did something downright sinful. They alerted me to their brand new sister locale, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, which had just opened, right around the corner.
Little did they know, they were dealing with a hard-core Italian foodie. Full-belly and all I managed to skip the whole way over. It’s a more casual spot to pick up authentic Italian products, grab freshly baked bread (including focaccia by-the-slice), sandwiches, Italian salumi and cheeses and of course more homemade gelato.
There’s also a bar serving espresso and cappuccino manned by very friendly baristas, and a casual restaurant in the back, that was due to open any day. This location offers many of the same wonderful Italian products and philosophy, with prices that reflect a more relaxed and casual setting. I was full, but still drooling.
I managed to relax at the bar over a cappuccino and was given a small spoonful of the nectarine gelato, which was just as fruity and creamy as my earlier flavors. I couldn’t resist taking a slab of rosemary and olive oil focaccia to-go, which I enjoyed on the train ride home.
Two great spots to get authentic Italian food in New York City – each with its own unique atmosphere. One, a more romantic and upscale restaurant and the other, a combination of Italian grocery, cafe and osteria. Not Italy, but it sure comes close.
47 Bond Street
New York, NY 10012
Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
53 Great Jones Street
New York, NY 10012
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