What does it take to get into Rosemary’s? With its status as the go-to restaurant of the moment, and no reservation policy, it’s a serious test of patience. Since it opened its doors early in the summer, it’s been packed with trendy West Village residents. After Pete Wells came by and dropped a star on the place, diners started to arrive via subway in droves.
What does it take for me, an impatient diner to get into Rosemary’s? A snow storm.
The goal for the evening was to support lower Manhattan eateries, which were still recovering slowly after the devastation of Sandy. So after a day spent at the Jacob Javits, I drove south in search for food.
That’s when I realized Rosemary’s was open, and looking through the massive glass sides, it was nearly empty.
The warm glow, wood toned decor and crackling open kitchen made Rosemary’s a picturesque refuge from the blizzard. At the end of the room, the stair case leads to the restaurant’s biggest selling point, a rooftop garden. They could have built a staircase in the back, but having it in plain sight makes it a conversation piece. I’m writing about it, must have worked.
Start by warming yourself up with some wine, with everything available by the glass for $10. Bottles are all $40, which could mean good or bad things depending on your preference and budget. For the neighborhood and economic times, it made sense. While there’re only two beers on tap, the Grada Plato, San Felice Chestnut Ale from Tuscany was one of the nuttiest and smoothest ales I’ve ever tasted.
The special salad of the day was a fairly mundane sounding “citrus salad”, which turned out to be a serious show of culinary chops. Sliced orange and grapefruit were slightly drizzled with honey, and topped with arugula, pomegranate seeds, pistachio nuts, Parmasan cheese, and finished with a light vinaigrette. The plate was also given a nice dose of sea salt, which really brought an extra dimension of flavor out of the citrus.
Calamari, from the Frutti di Mare section was a small, condiment sized bowl of unassuming squid. Much like the salad, looks can be deceiving. With each bite your tongue and nose pickup a hint of smokiness from how the squid was prepared, which further amazes when you realize the tender texture. Celery, almonds, raisins, and a chili oil vinaigrette provides complementary flavors and texture contrast.
At the suggestion of our waiter, we chose the Orecchiette as the pasta course. The handmade pasta had the perfect texture only freshly made pasta can deliver. To pasta is then coated with a thin, light sauce that draws most of the flavor from their house made sausage. With 6 pasta choices, all handmade, I’d return just to try different plates.
Finally, in true Italian fashion, you must get a secondi. Having tasted the wonderful use of grapefruit in the salad, I was eager to discover how grapefruit can compliment fish. This was yet another winner. The texture of the fish was spot on, moist and flaky. While the garnish of celery root, grapefruit and Aranciata vinaigrette completed the package.
I therefore urge you to go to Rosemary’s. Find patient friends who wouldn’t mind a brief wait. Otherwise…. pick a snow day.
What does this rating mean?
From the Notebook: As restaurants in lower Manhattan, Red Hook, Staten Island, and parts of LI continue to recover from the effects of Sandy, many members of the staff living on tips have gone a week or more without income. Please continue to tip, and tip well, as we help each other through this difficult period. If you’re traveling to Rosemary’s on a snow day, please use discretion and only travel if it’s safe to do so.
18 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011