Blizzard be damned. A dozen inches of snow weren’t about to interfere with my Pac Man-like march across Manhattan. US Airways delivered me to Laguardia Airport moments before the first flakes fell, and my path followed in zig-zag fashion from Queens to the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village and eventually, after my stomach picked up enough momentum, Locanda Verde in TriBeCa.
Locanda Verde is situated on the Northwest corner of Robert de Niro’s luxurious Greenwich Hotel. Chef Andrew Carmellini previously cooked at A Voce, around the corner from Madison Square Park, which is where he prepared one of my favorite meals, Italian or otherwise, in 2006.
Locanda Verde – “green inn” in Italian – features a rustic design, including brick and wood, exposed wood beams, wine shelves that wrap around columns, and cantilevered mirrors that allow for subtle peeks of fellow diners. Seating consists of banquettes and mismatched wood tables, including some sporting decorative copper bands.
Their Porchetta Sandwich ($15) consisted of thin-shaved, fat-rimmed pork, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, served with molten Provolone cheese and tangy balsamic grilled onions on soft house baked ciabatta. Happily, the accompanying salad even incorporated pork, with crunchy skins (chicharrones) topping crisp romaine leaves, somewhat bitter radicchio and punchy pepperoncini. Porchetta has become a popular option on Italian menus nationwide, and while Locanda Verde’s version didn’t offer as much spice, or as much fat, as other versions, it still contributed to a balanced, flavorful sandwich.
The pasticceria housed a whimsical counter topped with glass pedestals that staffers ringed with a (functional) toy train and gingerbread houses. It was impossible to resist trying at least one item. My choice was the cake-y apple cider doughnut ($2), with distinct tangy cider flavor and a judicious glaze.
This Carmellini experience wasn’t quite as dazzling as my A Voce dinner, but it wasn’t a fair fight. The brunch menu is much more limited. Still, based on the dishes that did make their way to my table, and considering the online dinner menu, it’s believable that dinner (when it finally happens) will compete with my memory of former glory.