With four-star ambitions and prices to match, Mario Batali’s cavernous restaurant has become nothing less than the city’s top destination for refined, upscale Italian cuisine.

ItalianRestaurantTerra & Mare

Rated 4.75 out of 5

With four-star ambitions and prices to match, Mario Batali’s cavernous restaurant has become nothing less than the city’s top destination for refined, upscale Italian cuisine.

Location

Mario Batali has the toughest act to follow in New York dining: himself. I’ve eaten at his Italian restaurants—Babbo, Lupa, Esca and Otto—over two dozen times and never had a bad meal. Consistent excellence, and relentless Food Network appearances, have turned molto Mario into the most talked-about chef in town; in recent weeks, the rumor mill even suggested that Del Posto, his latest venture with mother-son team Lidia and Joe Bastianich, might well become the first four-star Italian restaurant in the city. But to these taste buds, it has a ways to go.

Much has been made of the $29 valet parking and coy reservationists, but I was more unnerved by the un-Batali, upscale-hotel vibe. The big open space feels like a lobby: There’s a lounge to the left, fine dining to the right, private tables upstairs and giant drapes blotting out the view of the Meatpacking District. In the background, a live pianist played sleepy sonatas. On the plus side, the noticeably large tables are spaced generously apart from one another. The service is knowledgeable, omnipresent and invisible. And the wine list features some great Italian choices in all price ranges.

Starters

The first food to hit the table was a not-especially memorable bread basket, accompanied by butter and rosemary-seasoned lardo. I could not sample all 16 or so antipasti available, but the ones I did try showed some originality. The seafood salad was light, non-oily and came with seaweed. The vegetable fritto misto included orange slices and a tasty anchovy-and-garlic sauce. The otherwise boring porcini salad was saved by powerful fennel flavor.

And my favorite appetizer, the salami-like cotechino sausage, was pulled from the world’s swankest hot dog cart and sliced over lentils; the garlicky, molasses flavor resonated for minutes.

Pasta

The pastas are unimpeachable successes. A bomb of fresh lemon accompanied each bite of the marshmallow-soft ricotta-stuffed tortelli, and the spinach tagliatelle is pure food porn; the savory, rich bolognese ragù painted each strand beautifully. Unfortunately, you pay for the pleasure; primis run as high as $27, and that’s a lot to spend on spaghetti, even if it does have crab in it.

Main Course

The main courses just never thrilled me the way I imagined Batali—and executive chef Mark Ladner—would. The lamb three ways featured a lamb-chop, braised lamb shoulder and cool little fried lamb-tail balls, but I wasn’t dizzy in love. The most attractive entrées require sharing—the balcony eaves host large circular tables made for this—and while I watched longingly as a nearby server spent 15 minutes excavating an arctic char salt-baked in a Dead Sea’s worth of sodium, bigger doesn’t mean better. The braised veal shank for two had all the flavor of a standard-edition pot roast.

Cheese

Still more mystifying was the cheese course, which basically ignores hundreds of great Italian cheeses and instead plays only with two-, four- and six-year-old Parmigiano-Reggiano. I was especially disappointed, on one visit, to learn that the ten-course tasting menu merited only a chunk of the two-year-old, rather than a full flight. At $120 per person, not including wine, diners deserve better.

If Del Posto were the creation of some chef fresh from Florence, he’d be crowned a pasta wunderkind. Batali, alas, lives by higher standards. Towards the end of one meal, an elegant man at the next table told me that Del Posto wasn’t bad, but that he planned to stick with Babbo, where he dines every week. I can’t say I blame him.

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Amenities
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Parking
  • Accepting Credit Cards
  • Air conditioned
  • Bar service
  • Family friendly
  • Catering
  • Delivery
  • Private Events
  • Booking required

4 reviews

  • Joanna Wilson
    4 out of 5

    Great little restaurant

    Booked and visited this place whilst on a trip to NYC I wasn’t expecting somewhere quite so intimate but the food and service was fantastic. One of the best Italians I have ever eaten in. Well worth a visit

    27th ottobre 2017

    Reply

  • Eddie Andrew
    5 out of 5

    I can't stop going!

    I never get tired of this place. It is an absolute must on every trip to NYC. Great food, great wine, fantastic ambiance and quintessential NYC, Soho kind of place. Can\'t stop going!

    27th ottobre 2017

    Reply

  • Josh Westminster
    5 out of 5

    3+ hrs of Italian Soul Food (and wine)

    Midweek. Cool and drizzling rain. Olio e Piu was packed inside and outside. Great vibe. Youthful but accessible for aging boomers :-) Authentic menu. We shared antipasti, melanzane parmigiana, caprese salad, tagliatelle bolognese, and gelato. No room for beautiful looking pizzas or mains. Everything was perfecto. Service was attentive but not of the helicopter variety. Highly recommended.

    Keep reading

    27th ottobre 2017

    Reply

  • Nathan Frederick
    5 out of 5

    Fantastic dinner, great atmosphere

    We really enjoyed our dinner. You have a sphere is cozy and dark, and they open up the doors to an outdoor patio when the weather is nice. Victoria took excellent care of us, and even switched us to a table right near outside on a busy night. The mushroom ravioli was excellent!

    27th ottobre 2017

    Reply

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