West Village Italian at I Sodi

the bar at i sodi

The West Village excels at these small, charming restaurants that have the right combination of atmosphere and informality that make it perfect for a night out. Places like Little Owl or Pearl Oyster Bar come to mind as representative examples. Another restaurant that embodies the West Village spirit is I Sodi, an Italian place run by the duo that’s also behind Buvette and Via Carota, two other West Village spots that have the neighborhood charm down to a science. If you want perfected renditions of comforting Italian classics like cacio e pepe or lasagna in a picturesque, neighborhood setting, then this is the place for you. It’s small so reservations may be hard to come by, but if you pull up solo or with a friend or two at around 6, there should be some space at the bar.Read More

Chumley’s Old-School Glamour

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If you want to travel back in time to old New York, the kind that lives in movies and books like The Great Gatsby and Inside Llewyn Davis, then pay a visit to Chumley’s, a historic speakeasy and pub on 86 Bedford St. You might miss the unmarked entrance, a detail from its Prohibition Era origins, but once you find it and open the door, you won’t need a secret password, just a reservation. The reservation is essential, as demand for a table is extremely high, given that the restaurant has finally reopened after nearly a decade-long renovation. “We don’t like breaking hearts” is how the hostess will turn you away if you attempt to do the walk-in.Read More

Casa Apicii

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It’s hard to pay attention to your food at Casa Apicii when there are big, flashy chandeliers hanging all over the ceilings. The space is so stunning in an ornate and overt kind of way, a throwback to the flash of the 80s and the early aughts. It’s quite a change from the casual and clean lines of the minimalist eateries that have been the trend lately. Maybe it’s the type of thing you see in the Midtown power lunch dining rooms. Or maybe the economy really is improving and lavish spending is making a comeback. Read More

Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen

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The moment I walked into Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen, a new Chinese restaurant in the West Village, it was such a shitshow that I thought there was no way the food here was going to be good. I was greeted by a hostess with a blank stare who kept quoting guests wait times that probably weren’t real and showed us to the waiting area, handing me a menu of “mocktails” and teas that I could order from, only two out of the three special teas were not available that night. It didn’t really matter if I wanted anything, because no one was really around to take my order. The whole staff looked like they had been cobbled together at the last minute to run this restaurant, except no one gave them any guidance on how to do it, and no one looked like they really cared.Read More

Perla, Romantic Italian

I usually try to push myself to eat something interesting when dining out, but once in awhile, I just want to eat something safe and reliable. This usually means a traditional Italian restaurant with lots of delicious carbs in a charming, cozy space downtown. Think L’Artusi or Barbuto. And now, another one to add to the list, Perla in the West Village.

some cider and house bread
some cider and house bread

It’s refreshing to be in a restaurant like Perla that is more old school in its approach. There is a sincere focus on customer service, the menu is catered to please, not to provoke, and the romantic and grown-up ambiance makes it feel like something special is taking place. I loved how uncomplicated the menu was. A few starters, some vegetables to make you feel like you’re being somewhat healthy, some solid and reliable pastas like spaghetti and gnocchi, and mains that cover all the major proteins that people like to eat.

the agnolotti with sweet potato, brown butter and sage
the agnolotti with sweet potato, brown butter and sage

We always ask the server what their favorites are, even though I’ve heard that this question doesn’t always get you honest answers, but his recommendations were spot on. One of them was the agnolotti, and it was everything you could ever want on a winter’s day, which are fat nuggets of dough drenched in brown butter and stuffed with sweet potato. My mind was blown by how good it was, and even til this day, I am star struck by that delicious encounter.

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orecchiette with sweet italian sausage and broccoli rabe pesto
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sardines with tripe, tomato, olives and fennel

The orecchiette was a little more interesting, a little edgier with its fragrant and herbal broccoli rabe pesto, but the crumbly italian sausage was a real people pleaser. Even something like sardines in tripe, which sounds disgusting, managed to be comforting and delicious.

I basically love this place and would recommend it to anyone who wants a good meal in the most conventional sense. It’s like the Paris of restaurants. Yes, it’s not the most original, but it does its job so very well. Let the scrappy entrepreneurs take the vegan burgers and poke bowls, and leave classically good cooking to the experts.

24 Minetta Lane (between Ave of the Americas and Macdougal St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 933-1824