Located in the Theater District, Barbetta is the oldest Italian restaurant in New York City. This historic landmark still owned by the family that founded it back in 1906. Here, they stir clear of the rustic Italian look that’s typical of many Italian restaurants, opting for a grand, elegant dining room complete with Piemontese antiques and a chandelier.
John and I recently visited Barbetta for lunch to use a $50 gift certificate. This seemed to be a popular spot for a nice, sit down meal before catching a show nearby. Even though the dining room felt cool and comfortable, we asked to sit outside because it would be a shame to pass on al fresco dining in a lovely garden.
The outdoor garden was surrounded by tall trees and had a fountain right in the middle. It was helpful that they provided umbrella to shade you from the sun. A few spiders tried to join us for lunch, but we politely turned them away. (John carefully carried them off our table with a fork and placed them on nearby plants.)
Since Barbetta specializes in Piemontese cuisine, we decided to go with Piemonte wines and pasta dishes. One thing I liked about the menu is how they list the year each dish was first served. You get a little bit of history served with your meal. They also have an impressive wine menu that has won many distinctions from several major wine publications.
The service was good, but at times, the staff seemed a bit overly zealous. A different person would approach us every couple minutes asking if we were ready to order or if we had any questions. Honestly, I had barely glanced at menu in between telling them we still needed a few more minutes. The staff was very helpful at explaining the different dishes though, and they kept refilling our bread because John kept eating it all.
John ordered the Paccheri in a tomato and basil sauce ($21), one of the newer dishes that they’ve only started serving in 2014. Looked pretty good and was quite a hefty portion. Poor John had no idea what wine to order, so I picked out a Piemonte Pinot Noir for him. I always like Pinot Noir for summer sipping and meatless dishes.
I ordered the Risotto alla Piemontese with wild porcini mushrooms ($21) and paired it with a Piemonte Chardonnay. This dish has been served at Barbetta since its founding in 1906.
The risotto was well prepared and had an earthiness from the porcini. While John aka “Mr I can’t stand mushrooms” thought the mushrooms added an unappetizing color to my risotto, I thought the color and flavor of mushrooms throughout the dish was delightful. Rich and earthy without being overwhelming. I enjoyed every bite. Sigh, I really need to take a trip to Italy!