I was sitting at one of the front tables at Trattoria Italienne, which sits behind Eataly, and I had a bit of a deja vu. When I asked the waiter what had been there previously, he replied that it had been the Cutting Room, once owned by Chris Noth of Sex & the City fame. Oh yes, now I remembered the few concerts I’d attended in the nineties in this space’s former incarnation.
The space looks nothing like it used to with no signs of the dimly lit rock ‘n roll atmosphere. Today, it’s a polished, upscale restaurant with rustic yet high end food made by talented chef Jared Sippel. Its name suggests Italian meets French (Italienne is the French way of saying Italian). And both Northern Italian and Southern French food are peppered into the flavors and techniques.
In the front of the restaurant stands an old-fashioned meat slicer which, the manager told me, is an antique that’s been refurbished. It’s a beauty. Aged prosciutto is sliced to order then topped with freshly-shaved horseradish, a combination I’d never tasted, but liked. Fougasse, a Provencal bread arrives hanging from an iron structure; it’s served with parsnip and honey-poached cranberry sauce for a very different bread experience.
The pasta dishes (all of the pasta is made in house) are the true standout. Airy puffs of homemade gnocchi are served with bacon and gorgonzola for a veritable comfort dish. Another great pasta dish is the tortelloni with cardoon honey and walnuts. Enjoy these while sipping one of the carefully curated wines.
The true standout dish is the Venetian-style spaghetti with large head-on shrimp, Calabrian chili, and basil–this is a sultry dish with just the right amount of spiciness. I’d go back for that dish alone.
If you’re still hungry there are entrees, some of which serve two, like the Pork Collar, a hefty plate of pork cooked a variety of ways with Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts Braised in Honey, Herb Roasted 1/2 Chicken, and 28-Day Aged Grilled Cote du Boeuf.
For dessert, get the buttermilk panna cotta with cardamom streusel or a few scoops of homemade ice cream, usually an underrated choice on a dessert menu, but in this case a treat, with seasonal options, maple and fig, the highlights.
Trattoria Italienne is the kind of place where you can sit in the back dining room and go all out, but I suggest grabbing a seat at the bar or one of high top tables by the windows and sharing a few things with your friends.
Trattoria Italienne is located at 19 West 24th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues; 212-600-5139; italiennenyc.com