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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Italian West Village Moderate Great


I had dinner at Barbuto, Jonathan Waxman’s ode to simple Italian fare, over the weekend and was very pleased. The space, on the ground floor of Industria Studios on Washington Street (at West 12th), is industrial meets rustic farmhouse, a combination of steely workspace and earthy rusticity that works. On your chrome topped tables you’ll find navy blue and white checked cloth napkins, wooden bowls of olives and almonds, and baskets of crusty country bread, while the bar, lit with low-slung fluorescent tube lighting, is filled with candles and rural accents of a hillside farmhouse in Italy.

The restaurant has a wood-burning oven (and it can get smoky in there) and a kitchen that is so wide open that you feel like you are almost eating dinner is someone’s loft. Waxman has set up a big old farmhouse table just out in front of the kitchen, giving the place even more of a homey feel. You may feel so at home sitting at the kitchen table, that when you scrape the last bit of wood-oven roasted cauliflower from your bowl, you will forget to summon your waiter for another order, and simply turn directly to the cooks on the line and plead for more.

I loved the roasted cauliflower (perfectly cooked so it was sweet and tender, and charred to give it a slight smokiness), and felt similar amorous feelings toward other dishes on the menu, executed by chef de cuisine Lynne McNeely, formerly of Fressen and who cooked with Waxman at Washington Park. Waxman is here too, in the kitchen sometimes, but mostly here takes to the role of chef/host, roaming the dining room and saying hello to friends and welcoming old and new fans to his western retreat.

Barbuto’s menu fits the neighborhood and the style of late to serve simple, reasonably-priced rustic fare in a hip, easy setting. Waxman has always been a seasonal devotee of Greenmarket produce and his menu is heavy on quality ingredients from local farmers like the long, fat, sweet spring onions from Satur Farms, simply grilled and served with a slick of rich lemon aioli. We also had the red dandelion salad with ricotta salata and radishes ($8), a lively dish marked by sharp and well-balanced flavors that could only have been improved had the radishes been shaved, and not just plopped on top of the greens in half-globes. As my friend Jamie said, “It is delicious, but it’s a lot of work.” But we were both fighting over the last savory tentacle of squid in Waxman’s insalata di ... [more, click below]

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