Mon-Thu, 7am-11pm; Fri, 8am-midnight; Sat, 9am-midnight; Sun, 9am-11pm
6 at Bleecker St.
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The amateur food photographers are also out in full force these days at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, the popular, painstakingly rusticated market-restaurant spinoff of Mattos’s alma mater, Il Buco, on Great Jones Street. In the tradition of rustic-market-restaurant spinoffs everywhere, this one offers carefully curated dry goods in the Alimentari grocery section up front, along with a butcher display stocking boutique cured meats (admirably smoky, feathery strips of salumi “Toscano,” de rigueur blocks of lardo), and racks stuffed with loaves of Italian bread baked in-house. As at Mario Batali’s Eataly, you can purchase these goodies to take home, or sample them and other delicacies at the Vineria wine bar and restaurant on the premises, which serves lunch and dinner from an open kitchen in the back manned by chefs wearing orange Italian bicycle caps. (There’s a good breakfast, too, served in the Alimentari.)
Some of the most respected gastronomes in town have compared their meals at this precious little restaurant to ones they’ve enjoyed in Italy itself. If you stick to Justin Smillie’s beautifully balanced pastas (try the twirls of Southern Italian “busiate” pasta enmeshed in anchovies, tomatoes, and mint) or the ribbons of roast porchetta (best enjoyed at lunchtime stuffed inside a filone roll), that may be true. But like the fried rabbit at most places around town, the fried rabbit here tastes like bony fried chicken, and the frizzled artichokes I ordered one evening were so soggy by the time they were placed in front of us that they tasted steamed. The salt-roasted branzino is a minor work of art, however, and so are one or two of the desserts, in particular the snow-white panna cotta, which is drizzled with a rich slick of aged balsamic vinegar and served in a simple snow-white bowl.Ideal Meal
Busiate, branzino or porchetta, panna cotta.