One of my Manhattan based friend Joe’s key selling points about the vaunted Italian restaurant from Donna Lennard, Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, was the short ribs. He made the dish (and the multi-faceted NoHo restaurant) sound so good that I felt compelled to join him for my second dinner, in one night, and it was well worth it.
I left the ordering to Joe and his friends, who had become Il Buco regulars, and they welcomed variety with Appetizers, Primi and Dolci, but wouldn’t even consider a second Secondi, ordering two Slow-Roasted Short Ribs ($38). The concept of limiting a table of five people to a single taste confused me, especially with options like rabbit and porchetta on the menu, but after wood planks of Slow-Roasted Short Ribs ($38) hit our table in dramatic fashion, and I took that first bite, I understood. The crisp, pepper-crusted beef was profoundly juicy, with smoky undertones. According to our waiter, chef Justin Smillie coats the ribs in peppercorns and roasts them in foil before cooling them, searing them in a cast iron skillet and finishing the meat in an oak-burning oven. Castelverano olives join the fray, as do cuts of celery, walnuts, ultra savory colatura di alici (anchovy extract) and fresh-shaved horseradish. Joe’s friend Andy described the short ribs as a “masterwork of meat,” a just description.