At this massive, brick-walled trattoria, the food is so flat-out seductive you understand quickly why so many diners are clamoring for a table by the front door. Andrew Carmellini’s (A Voce, Bar Primi) bold family-style fare—dinner dishes are all designed for sharing—is best enjoyed as part of a bacchanalian banquet. Sitting among wine-bottle-lined bookshelves, you might begin your feast with a snack—a simple plank of sliced capocollo and hunks of sharp grana padano—before moving on to heartier fare.
A single thick, meaty octopus tentacle that’s been slow-cooked until tender, charred on the grill, and served with tangy romesco won’t last long in the middle of the table. Nor, for that matter, will the chef’s seared-meatball sliders, ground lamb topped like burgers with sliced tomato and pickles, on goat-cheese-slathered Parmesan-onion buns.
The menu is big but not overwhelming; the family-style setup makes it easy to order from every section. After the antipasti, why not share a few middle-course pastas before moving on to some bountiful mains? Ravioli as delicate as silk handkerchiefs ooze pungent robiola, while frilly-edged malfadine noodles pick up a rib-sticking “Sunday Night” veal bolognese.
Carmellini cooks like an Italian grandmother—delivering simple food with so much heart, the recipe might’ve been passed down from a long line of great cooks. His thin-sliced fatty “the way I like it” porchetta, stuffed with fennel pollen and topped with crisp crackling nuggets, is a succulent triumph.
Locanda Verde is the rare Italian restaurant with desserts worth saving room for, like the “fantastia” goblet of strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb—a textural treasure hunt featuring layers of shortbread, gelato, meringue and sweet zabaglione that’s built to be shared, but so tasty you’ll wind up fighting your way to the bottom. That’s the thing about Locanda Verde. No matter how sated you are, as more food arrives you still end up finishing every last bite.