Toscana Trattoria

August 15, 2007

New York/West Village, 64 Carmine Street (between Bedford and 7th Avenue). 212-675-8736.

(August 10, 2007)  Leave your passport at home. Avoid jet lag. Hop in cab or a subway and go to Toscana Trattoria (formery Oreste Trattoria). You are now in Italy, or at least the Italy that every traveler hopes to find. Three months ago, Franco Fazzuoli opened a warm and wonderful restaurant, where he lovingly creates magic out in the kitchen.

Before we had opened our menus, and in fact, we never did open them, a platter arrived, loaded with filet mignon with pesto sauce, some mozzarella with a bit of mascarpone blended in, seafood salad and crostini topped with a pate of three types of liver—chicken, rabbit and another now forgotten.Franco then suggested that the six of us share his three pasta specials and so we did. There was a tortelloni with a pink Bolognese sauce, a penne with prosciutto and herbs and linguini with seafood; each one delicious, but if pressed, we would award the star to the tortelloni.. Franco then asked what we wanted for our main course, and none of us could muster the will to even think about it. He insisted, however, and suggested that we have two portions of his steak “Fiorentina.” It came out on a large platter, family style, perfectly cooked and enough to feed any army. Using only the classic salt and pepper as flavor, he had created an outstanding version with dry-aged American Black Angus beef instead of his native Tuscan Chianina beef.  Accompanying this yummy meat was a platter of broccoli, carrots and potatoes. There went two notches on our belts but we just couldn’t resist.Finally, Franco brought us each an orange sorbet frozen in an orange skin that he imports from Italy. All agreed that this was the most authentic Italian experience this side of the Atlantic.

Throughout we drank a very nice and reasonably priced Tuscan wine from Villa Antinori. Since we never opened a menu, we can’t tell you the prices of the various dishes, but expect to pay between $50 and $75 a person with wine and tip.

The décor is simple with brick walls, exposed beams and wood floors. The staff is mainly Italian and takes as much pleasure in your enjoyment of the food as does Franco himself. Because there is only room for about 50 people in a fairly large room, the tables are well-spaced and noise is minimal.

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