Sunday, March 29, 2009

[NYC '09: Dinner, day 1] Barbarini Alimentari: I Love New York

After our 5 hour long flight from LA (a 7am flight, no less), the three of us were in no condition to venture far for dinner. After consulting my list of dinner places in the financial district, we decided to try out this small eatery near our hotel. We battled the strong NY windy night for a few blocks before nipping into the welcoming warmth of Barbarini Alimentari.

(The Food Counter)

Barbarini Alimentari is a neighborhood gem. In fact, it’s pretty much the real-life representation of what I think the perfect restaurant should be like: great food, great service, and a cute and cozy atmosphere. In one word, the restaurant is adorable. It’s tucked away in a quiet street near South Street Seaport. It’s not fancy or anything; a few clean chairs and wooden tables set in a small room with a glass counter at the front displaying the daily offerings. What the restaurant IS, though, is a perfect setting for a small group of friends to catch up over dishes of hearty American-Italian food.

(Just a part of the large dessert selection)

The three of us all ordered off the daily special chalkboard menu. Sunny got the penne with meatballs ($14.00), Debs got the orecchiette with shrimp in pink sauce ($16.00) and I ordered the vegetable lasagna ($14.00). We had just gotten off the plane and were literally STARVING so we all dove into the bread basket when it was brought to the table. Thank God we didn’t eat too much bread (cold and too tough – nothing special) because our piping hot pasta dish portions turned out to be quite hefty.

(Penne with Meatballs)

The orecchiette was a little bit too much on the al dente side for my personal taste but the sauce was great. I took a small taste of the penne and the sauce which I thought was a tad too sour but Sunny seemed to enjoy it. And the vegetable lasagna? Layers of pasta and grilled zuchinni, mushrooms, minced eggplant, cheese and more veggies…OMG it was SO GOOD. The pasta texture was perfect – not too mushy and not too chewy. The creamy b├ęchamel sauce was spot on with the salty/cheesy/creamy balance and although the dish looked super greasy, the dish was surprisingly unheavy, relative to its ginourmous size. The minced eggplant lent the lasagna an almost meat-like texture. Really, with something THIS good, who needs meat?

(orecchiette in pink sauce)

When we were nearing the end of our meal, a sweet, intoxicating smell came wafting slowly from the kitchen. I have no idea what it was but it smelled absolutely amazing…which SUCKED because we were all way too full after finishing our pasta dishes. The chef, however, brought a small dish of complimentary amaretti to our table. How cute! The cookies were bite-sized pieces of sweet, crumbly goodness. The amaretti settled a pretty much solidified my love for this place.

(Meaty Meatlessness: the BEST veggie lasagna I've had so far)

Service was top-notch. Friendly, laid-back and attentive. The prices were also extremely reasonable – nothing was over $18.00 and many items on the regular menu run under
$10.00. The adjoining Barbarini Mercato grocery store is also absolutely adorable, stocking fresh fruits and imported wines and foodstuffs.

(Sweet and Almond-y Amaretti)

Between the soft glow of the restaurant lights and the warm fuzzy feeling in our happy stomachs, the atmosphere in Barbarini Alimentari felt Christmasy to me. And being at the table with those two ladies, I couldn’t ask for a better way to start our New York trip.

Here’s too good food and good friends.

(And an espresso to end a perfect meal)

FOOD: 4.75/5
SERVICE: 4.75/5

225 Front St.
New York, NY 10038
(212) 227-8890

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