Via Carota

Restaurants, Italian West Village
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakBeets and apples at Via Carota
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakSvizzerina at Via Carota
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakRadicchio with pine nuts and currants at Via Carota
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakFried rabbit at Via Carota
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakVia Carota
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
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Photograph: Filip WolakVia Carota

In the #trending slang lexicon of 2015, basic is not a compliment—it’s a dig to the banal, extra-regular-ness of everything from fur-lined Ugg boots to pumpkin-spice lattes. Basic cooking is no exception, redolent with whiffs of home kitchens and hands-on Sauté 101 classes. But the soulful Italian plates served at Via Carota, the first joint effort from chef power couple Jody Williams and Rita Sodi—at once rustic, sophisticated and heart-swelling—proves simple food can be anything but basic.

The glass-fronted Grove Street gastroteca (named after the Tuscan thoroughfare where Sodi once lived) is a chestnut’s throw from West Village charmers Buvette and I Sodi, where, respectively, Williams and Sodi took the reins as downtown’s doyennes of comfort food done excellently. Via Carota’s elegant ease is a spiritual extension of those restaurants and the chefs’ personal partnership, and the in-tandem cooking follows suit.

Pass over the satisfying-but-safe pastas—sacrilege for an Italian restaurant, maybe, but there are more exciting things to be had here—and nosedive into the menu’s deepest section, verdure. There you’ll find fuss-free provincial stunners like the barbabietola ($12), a toss of tender beets and pickled apples flecked with fragrant thyme and tangy pebbles of goat’s-milk feta, and crinkly, charred frills of grilled radicchio ($12), dressed in olive oil and nested with currants and toasted pine nuts. And there are fried whole artichokes, of course, a Sodi staple that come crispy on the outside and delicate at the heart ($8).

You can make an excellent meal here via vegetable alone, but then you’d miss out on the house svizzerina ($20), a bunless, hand-chopped round of New York strip steak that arrives flash- seared and nearly naked, save a few husk-on garlic cloves and a salty, rosemary-licked pool of fat. It’s like the most purist, primal burger you’ve ever had.

Fried rabbit ($19), as lightly crisp as good calamari, would benefit from a spritz of lemon, but Sodi and Williams’s collective confidence in the kitchen largely eclipses such meager missteps. In a food culture fueled by high-tech hybrid desserts and brainiac noodle bowls, the chefs operate with an unflappable, frankly-my-dear disregard for “cool” that very nearly borders on subversive. (The soundtrack is reminiscent of a parent’s Pandora station—think eight-year-old Iron & Wine songs— and the knickknacky room is garnished with more bowls of fruit than a Nancy Meyers movie kitchen.) At Via Carota, Sodi and Williams are keeping things simple and, as a byproduct, simply fucking good.

By: Christina Izzo

Posted:

Venue name: Via Carota
Contact:
Address: 51 Grove St
NY
10014
Cross street: between Christopher St and Seventh Ave South
Opening hours: Mon–Thu, Sun 8am–midnight; Fri, Sat 8am–1am
Transport: Subway: 1 to Christopher St-Sheridan Sq
Price: Average main dish: $25. AmEx, Disc, MC, V.
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tastemaker

This is the perfect date spot. It is romantic, without trying to be romantic - a European cafe in the middle of the West Village. Everything on the menu is fresh, shareable and delicious. My friend and I tried the burrata, broccoli rabe and fried rabbit (so unique!). Very reasonably priced as well. We shared a bottle of pinot grigio, and our server was incredibly attentive (aka our glasses were NEVER empty). There is also a server who looks like Jake Gyllenhaal, as if this place needed an additional bonus.


The best thing about it were the vegetables. Everyone of them was delicious. So hard to find an extensive vegetable menu in NYC.