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When Epicurean Management, the team behind Infatuation favorites L’Artusi and dell’anima, open a new restaurant, we feel the need to get there both immediately and often. Their last restaurant, Ellabess, didn’t do so well and already closed. Probably because they went without an apostrophe. Good to see they’re learning from past mistakes. L’Apicio has been open for a couple of months and, judging by the crowds, is here to stay. We went on a recent Friday night and it was absolute fire inside the restaurant. There were people everywhere, and they were all feeling it hard. This Bowery area is now flooded with all kinds of hot #EatDowntown action, and is reminiscent of what MeatPacking was like about ten years ago – right before it became completely unbearable.
Being that it’s the ground floor of a massive luxury apartment complex, L’Apicio has a lot of sterile, Restoration Hardware looking real estate to work with. It lacks the intimacy of a dell’anima and the neighborhoodiness of a L’Artusi. That being said, with an open view of the illuminated kitchen, exposed brick walls, and black leather booths, they do an admirable job of sprucing up the joint to take your mind of purchasing a new towel rack. As for the service, that seems to be hit or miss. Some servers appear to be veterans of the trade who know the menu and wine list inside and out. Others falter under the pressure of very complex questions like “so, what’s good here?” Some might even forget to mention that the “still” water you agreed is of the “$8 a bottle” variety, as opposed to the “free because it covers two thirds of the earth” kind. Jokes on us for not realizing I guess, but it’s tough to stomach a $16 water charge on your bill when “tap” was never mentioned (it usually is). Those are charges that should be explicitly explained, not sneakily slid past guests.
When it comes to the menu, some of the food at L’Apicio is awesome. Most of it is simply good. However, all of it is incredibly salty. And not just a little salty. Salty like you just swam a few laps in the ocean with your mouth open. The handmade pastas are among the best of the options, as is usual with restaurants from these folks. They’re consistently the least salty and most delicious section of the menu. But the real sleeper home run item is the pork chop. That’s what you want to order when you come here. Ultimately, L’Apicio is a spot we’d urge you to check out. It’s a fun scene that’s Perfect For a lot of different things, but the food is far better at it’s predecessor restaurants. Put it this way – this isn’t going to replace L’Artusi in your permanent rotation.
The Grilled Endive with lemon, radicchio and pecorino is light and tangy, and is definitely worth a look if you want a salad to share with the table. The Bosc Pear is another one to consider, although prepare for the saltiest salad you’ve probably ever had. Order if low blood pressure is something you battle with. Our pick of the salad litter is most definitely the Watercress. It comes with some tasty roasted carrots and pistachios in a cumin yogurt dressing.
One big slice of sourdough toast overflowing with radicchio, pancetta and topped with an oozing fried egg. It’s a solid app, but one we wish was closer to a $5 price point as opposed to the $9 you’ll get hit with. Probably skip this and get one of the other items in this list.
Skip the bruschetta and roll with this raw hamachi, topped with finely sliced apple, jalapeño and chives. It’s a fun, spicy, and refreshing combination.
On one of our first trips to L’Apicio, right after they opened, the kitchen gifted us a bonus appetizer which is always a nice way to make a good first impression. That appetizer was the octopus with fregola and pepperoni. We were impressed. The squid was perfectly cooked, with a nice charred outside and buttery smooth inside.
Quail “a la Plancha”
We’d heard a lot about their quail appetizer with pancetta, butternut squash, and pumpkin seeds, but we weren’t very impressed by it. We got a tiny bird without much meat on its bones. It was way too salty and slightly overcooked. We suggest you pass.
Just because we’re lumping these pastas into one slot on the Food Rundown does not mean you should order a singular bowl on your trip. You should order as many as is humanly possible. As usual, the pasta is where their bread is buttered. The pasta dishes we suggest as must orders include the green Garganelli Verde with Lamb Bolognese and Pecorino. It’s perfectly rich and crazy delicious. Obviously, the Pappardelle with short rib ragu is bonkers, as is the Orecchiette in Veggie Stew. But the unexpected favorite was the Calamarata Calamari Ragu, with Chilies and Garlic.
We’ve had mixed results with the polenta. As you might have guessed, it’s always crazy salty. The Braised Oxtail with parmesan and crispy shallots one is awesome, as is the Broccoli Rabe and its creamy garlic, chili, and onion cornmeal. However, stay far away from the Pork Meatball.
Bistecca Tagliata Tuscan
We had high hopes for this after having the pork chop on our prior, but the steak was average. Solid fries and served medium rare with a side of fries, you can feel free to order it, just temper expectations.
Yes. Now we are f*cking talking. Until we had the pork chop, there wasn’t a single dish here that we got really, really fired up about. The pork chop with its crispy sweet potatoes, pancetta, and cranberries changed that. If you’re a carnivore, this is what you’re ordering. The glistening chop is as juicy and flavorful as pork can be, and it pairs tremendously with the sweet potatoes. Go forth, good friend.
Grilled Arctic Char
We weren’t blown away by either of the fish dishes we tried. They were totally fine, but nothing out-of-the ordinary. We liked the pickled shallots that came with with the char, but there was something missing to make the dish really stand out.
If we were ordering fish again here, this is probably the direction we’d go. The cod came swimming in a broth, surrounded by chorizo, clams, and some other various varieties of shellfish. Not bad, but not life changing.
It’s all about the Broccoli Rabe with garlic, chilies, and sausage pesto, and the Roasted Brussel Sprouts with speck and black pepper. You might need double orders of the sprouts. They’re that good.