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Note: Click here for a more recent visit to Barbuto.

Last Friday night, a friend and I paid a happy visit to Barbuto. The neighborhood is technically the West Village, but the phalanx of black cars and beautiful people tells you you’re “Meatpacking-adjacent.”

Like many of the clubs and restaurants in this neighborhood, the building has been repurposed from less glamorous origins. This place seems to have been a garage. On a beautiful summer evening, Barbuto slides open the doors, and it’s wide open to the nearby river breeze on two sides.

The décor is spare, with exposed brick, industrial ceilings, and an open kitchen at the back. Chairs are painted brightly, tables are polished wood, napkins are gingham plaid.

They print a new menu every day. A link on their website to “today’s menu” is, in fact, that of July 22nd, which is similar to the one we saw. We both chose the appetizer of zucchini leaves with goat cheese, a dish in which I thought the cheese lacked a suitable accompaniment.

For the entrées, my friend chose the sea bass, while I chose the grilled skirt steak with chilli sauce. I had a taste of the bass, which was moist and succulent. The steak was an ample portion, hot and spicy. The chilli sauce brought just the right level of heat to the dish, overcoming a steak that was neither tender nor thick enough to be satisfactory on its own. Both entrés were $19, which for food of this quality is a great deal in NYC.

Barbuto takes its spare surroundings a bit too seriously. Who ever heard of an Italian restaurant that doesn’t offer bread with the meal? Instead, we were given just a small plate with a few nuts and olives. We made fast work of these, and had little to occupy us while we waited for dinner to arrive — which took a bit longer than it should. On the other hand, this gave us ample time to enjoy the lovely summer evening.

Barbuto (775 Washington Street at West 12th Street, Meatpacking District)

Food: *½
Service: *
Ambiance: *
Overall: *½

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