Over its 72-year existence, Minetta Tavern has attracted post-bout fighters, Beat poets, and not a few curious tourists. It has been a second home for Village fixtures like Joe Gould, a place where artists bartered pictures for meals, and a location for films like Sleepers. Mostly, though, it was a middling Italian restaurant coasting on decades of nostalgia. As of March 10, give or take, itll be a culinary destination, when Keith McNally and his chef-partners Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr reopen it as a meticulously restored 85-seat bistro, vintage murals and photo gallery intact. The French framework of the compact menu is expansive enough to feature old-fashioned classics, like billi bi and frogs legs, and still make room for an Iberian incursion or two, like salt-cod-and-piquillo-stuffed calamari, and the ne plus ultra of ground-meat spectacles, the Pat La Frieda Black Label burger. Theres a section devoted to the tavern-esque fare youd expect in such historic quarters: dry-aged cuts of meat like bone-in New York strip, served la carte with a steakhouse-worthy selection of potato and vegetable sides. Think Keens crossed with La Grenouille, down to the Grand Marnier souffl. Because this is a McNally operation, there is also a supper menu served from midnight to 2 a.m., an array of bar snacks from gougres to La Quercia ham, and a litany of $14 cocktails, both classic and original, some showcasing period-appropriate brown spirits, and all, its safe to say, a bit too steep for todays boozing beatniks.
113 Macdougal St., at Minetta Ln.; 212-475-3850