Carmellini to Cook Family Style at Locanda Verde; Plus: the Menu!

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Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine

How exactly did Andrew Carmellini end up at Locanda Verde, the reinvented Greenwich Hotel restaurant formerly known as Ago? Did partner Robert De Niro make him an offer he couldn’t refuse? Actually, it was Ken Friedman, of the Spotted Pig and the John Dory, who godfathered the deal, introducing Carmellini to hoteliers Richard Born and Ira Drukier, and eventually De Niro. On the surface, Carmellini is everything L.A. arriviste Agostino Sciandri wasn’t: a local talent who came up through New York’s haute cuisine ranks, working at such revered temples of gastronomy as Lespinasse, Le Cirque, and Café Boulud. Having taken an Italian turn at his last post, A Voce, Carmellini was determined to open a small, casual Italian joint with his chef de cuisine, Luke Ostrom, but the right deal never materialized. Instead, he was captivated by the hotel restaurant’s corner Tribeca location, which he and his partners have attempted to redesign into smaller, more intimate nooks.

The front has been converted into a café, open to the street, and accessorized with an espresso machine and cake trays stocked by Karen DeMasco, formerly of Craft. (“Being able to hire Karen is the biggest luxury of the job,” says Carmellini.) Where Ago was perceived as exclusive and pricey—not surprising in a property where rooms start at $475 a night—Locanda Verde aspires to be affordable (mains cost $18 to $25, the hundred wines are under $100) and very neighborhood-friendly. To that end, partner Josh Pickard will run the front of the house as he does at Lure, his Soho spot: with a proficient informality and lack of pretense. But as De Niro himself is the first to say, you go to any restaurant, celebrity-owned or otherwise, for the food. Carmellini’s will be rustic and accessible, with a nod to the seasons and a playful reference or two to the Italian-American canon: “gabagool” with broccoli-rabe bread, for instance, and pasta with Sunday-night ragù. Carmellini is particularly fond of the fire-roasted garlic chicken for two, which he cooks in the wood-burning oven that Ago used for pizza, and he flew in an obscure pasta shape called gigantoni out of Naples after his supplier ran out of it. He’s been studying old Italian cookbooks and stockpiling oversize platters and serving bowls for his “menu alla famiglia,” a family-style $32.95 feast he tested out on De Niro a week or so back. Does the hotel-keeping thespian like eating that way? “Yeah, sure,” De Niro says. “Don’t you?”

Locanda Verde. 379 Greenwich St., at N. Moore St.; 212-925-3797

PICCOLINI

Eggplant calabrese with mint
Wild Mushrooms agro dolce with garlic
Asparagus with sicilian oregano and orange
Marinated Beets with pecorino and walnuts
Chicken Liver crostino with vin santo and sultanos
Blue Crab crostino with jalapeno and tomato
Sheeps’ Milk Ricotta with sea salt and herbs
Gabagoul with broccoli rabe bread


ANTIPASTI

Arugula Insalata with almonds, green apple, and pecorino
Locanda Salad with dandelion, botarga, and a soft egg
Rabbit Terrina with sour cherry mostarda
Mediteranian Sardines in saor
Calamari Ripieni with polenta and chorizo
Lamb Meatball sliders with caprino and cucumber
Testa della Casa with sergio’s marinated vegetables
Tripe alla Parmigiana and a fried duck egg
Lingua Salmistrata with lentils and salsa verde


PASTA

Malfatti with ligurian pesto and parmigiano-reggiano
Mezzi Rigatoni with lamb amatraciana
Gigatone alla pescatora with shrimp meatballs
Fiorentini with sunday night ragu and provolone picante
Spaghetti primavera with ramps, peas, favas and speck
Egg Raviolo of ricotta with asparagus, lemon and grana
Fettucine Verde with white bolognese
Robiolo Raviolini with spring mushrooms and vermouth


SECONDI

Roasted Trout with new potatoes and giallo sauce
Charcoal-Grilled Bass with scampi and zucchini
Sea Scallop Pugliese with rapini and chickpeas
Wood Fired Broccoli Rabe Sausage with fagioli stufato
Beef Short Ribs in sugo cacciatore with cavolini
Porchetta della Casa
Hanger Steak Pizzaiolo fire-roasted with peperonata
Fire-Roasted Garlic Chicken for Two


CONTORNI

Organic Broccoli modo mio
Rustic Potatoes with garlic and parmigiano-reggiano
Yellow Wax Bean with lemon, almond and mint

Menu alla Famiglia……………………..xx per person

La Grande Abbuffata…………xx per person

Dolce

Toasted Almond Semifreddo
cherry sorbetto, fresh cherries

Raspberry-Pistachio Cake
raspberry stufato, fior di latte

Lemon Tart
buttermilk gelato, limoncello granita

Sheep Milk Ricotta Panna Cotta
strawberries and rhubarb

Chocolate Torta
spiced carmel, cardamom gelato

Babarino’s
babas alla Napilatano with whipped cream and rum

La Fantasia di Tropicale for 2
ginger gelato, lime granita, white chocolate crema, passion fruit caramel, champagne mango, golden pineapple, coconut cake

Gelati
fior di latte, buttermilk, hazelnut

Sorbetti
cherry, rhubarb, coconut

Italian Cookie Plate
chocolate biscotti, oatmeal biscotti, fig bars, espresso shortbread, nero cookies, polenta shortbread

Fettucini

Fettucine Verde with white bolognese.Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine