Note: Click here for a more recent (and less positive) review of Industria Argentina.
Industria Argentina has been open about two weeks, in a space that used to be a Chinese restaurant. It has been totally remodeled. According to Daily Candy, “everything in the place—floors, tables, chairs, fabrics, bar—comes from Argentina.” (Photo here.)
When I visited last night, a small corn tortilla was served as an amuse bouche — a soft, warm, tasty miniature pillow of dough that was a perfect prelude to the meal. Crisp Pan Seared Sweetbreads ($12), or mollejahs, were served over a salad of warm potato, scallions and bacon bites. This was an ample portion, to which I would award the ultimate compliment: I just couldn’t get enough of it.
Several entrées are in a category labeled “From the Brick Oven.” I tried the 24-hour Braised Ossobuco ($25), which is served over roasted vegetables with pine nuts pesto, in its own juices. My knife was entirely superfluous—the delicate flesh readily collapsed at the touch of a fork.
There menu also offers a variety of steaks from the grill (filet, ribeye, skirt steak, short ribs), and other dishes like pork milanese, pan seared chilean sea bass, pumpkin risotto, and so forth. It looks like there will be plenty to explore on future visits. For the adventurous, the available side dishes include a grilled blood sausage. You can look at the menu on menupages (to which my description of the food is partly indebted).
I concluded with Spiced Bread Pudding ($7), which is served with vanilla ice cream and caramelized rum-infused raisins. Again, a wonderful dish. Everything I tasted was conscientiously prepared and most attractively plated. The final bill before the tip, including two gin & tonics, was $65.
It’s early days yet, but the restaurant hasn’t caught on. According to Eater, even people who live on the block had no idea what was coming till the place opened. Evidently, this is the softest of “soft openings.” I was truly worried when I walked in at 6pm and was literally the only patron for about the first 20 minutes of my visit. But by the time I left, around 7:20pm on a Friday night, about half the tables were occupied.
Service was friendly and usually efficient, but there are a few glitches. No one offered to take my coat (I hung it myself). There were no other customers were when I arrived, so the staff couldn’t have been too busy. Warm bread rolls came with a wonderful lamb pâté, but no knife to spread it with. I asked for a cocktail menu,, and was advised, “Our menu is to invent your own.” Another patron asked for single-malt scotches, and was offered Johnnie Walker or Dewar’s. He then got up to look at the bar himself, and advised that there were indeed a few true single-malts on offer.
Still, with the restaurant barely a couple of weeks old, a fault or two is to be expected. The owner said hello to me warmly as I was leaving. According to Daily Candy, he also owns Novocento in SoHo and Azul Bistro on the Lower East Side. I wish him the best in this new venture. Industria Argentina is a fun place to eat.
Industria Argentina (329 Greenwich St., between Reade and Jay Sts., TriBeCa)