Arqua is out of the way for most fans of Italian food, unless you have business at City Hall or are prosecuting drug dealers in Federal court. Speaking of courts, that artichoke lasagna alone is reason to volunteer for jury duty.
Nowadays, TriBeCa restaurants no longer depend on prosecutors and city contractors to stay in business. Indeed, traffic must be better than ever, because earlier this year Arqua opened a casual cousin across the street, Petrarca Cucina e Vino, an informal restaurant and wine bar.
Miller found Arqua’s wine list over-priced, but Petrarca has an ample number of reasonable selections by the quartino, many priced at $20 or under. You can nurse two glasses out of a quartino, so that’s not bad by today’s standards.
After I ordered some wine, the bartender offered me a selection of bar snacks. I should have been suspicious, because it was clear the other patrons weren’t touching them. Indeed, they were cold, dull, and about ready to become cat food — except that most cats would have the good sense to give them a pass.
The décor is rustic chic, with broad windows, wine bottles on floor-to-ceiling shelves surrounding the room, and comfortable bar stools. There are tables for dinner, but I didn’t examine a menu. I won’t rate a restaurant solely on stale bar snacks, but would note that Frank Bruni wasn’t smitten.
Petrarca Cucina e Vino (34 White Street at Church Street, TriBeCa)