For neighborhood restaurants, expansion is tricky business. Big name chefs expand with the help of backers that often bring with them, along with money, experience running large businesses. Because after all, chefs can only be in one kitchen at a time, so expansion is very much a test of business management as it is a solid menu. When a neighborhood favorite seeks to expand beyond its comfortable niche, many fail to recreate the charm of the original.
Which is why I was quite impressed by the success of Westville. The concept of this neighborhood restaurant focuses on using fresh ingredients to execute casual enjoyable dishes at a very reasonable price. With a menu that’s deceptively simple, they’ve been able to replicate the identical menu at all three locations. On nice days, you’ll see a line waiting in front of each one.
To get a seat at any one of the Westville restaurants, you write your name down on the clipboard near the door and wait to be called. If there isn’t a wait, then the clipboard is flipped over telling you to go right on in. Once you do get seated, you’re presented with the regular menu plus a hand-scribbled-then-photocopied menu with today’s specials and market items. The market items are sides that are the made with the freshest market produce. For many entree items, you’re instructed to pick 1 or 2 items from the market menu.
Wines by the glass are served in the same table glass as water, being casual and functional. The restaurants are pretty cramped, so a tall wine glass probably isn’t the most idea.
On Westville’s website, it reads “if you use the freshest, highest quality ingredients, their preparation need not be fancy. The food speaks for itself.” I agree. Though I’d like to add that the reason behind Westville’s success is not just fresh ingredients, but also solid execution in cooking and flavoring.
Grilled lemon herb marinated chicken is a great value at $14, and comes with 2 delicious market sides. Though the chicken is thinly cut, and intentionally grilled on the drier side (no sear-then-oven prep here), the clean flavors of herb with zesty lemon is satisfying. Seared cherry tomatoes is all about the natural flavors, and bursting (literally) with juices. The pesto mash is very well done too.
Grilled pork chop smothered with onions & mushrooms was nearly flawless. Sure the plating wasn’t fancy, but I’d gladly make that trade-off every time for the delicious flavors of the reduced sauce. A simple salad with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balances this slightly heavier dish.
Casual delicious food at reasonable prices, and 3 locations, there’s often a Westville where you are going.
What does this rating mean?
Westville (and there are 3 of them)
210 W10th Street
New York, NY 10014
173 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
246 W18th Street
New York, NY 10011