Forge is the brainchild of Marc Forgione, whose more famous father, Larry Forgione, has been a big-name chef for thirty years. Son Marc has worked as a second fiddle in a number of places, most recently as Executive Chef at Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Prime.
I always say that if you want a successful restaurant, you should open near a bunch of other successful restaurants. Forgione followed that advice—not that he asked me—and opened right in the heart of TriBeCa. The look is the same rustic chic you could swear you’ve seen at about a dozen other places. You’ll have that same feeling about the menu, which offers standard New American bistro food.
As Forgione is not blazing any trails, the only question is whether he is doing the old standards well enough to make Forge better than just a decent neighborhood fallback. I can’t say that he is. The menu doesn’t range far or deep. With just six appetizers ($12–18) and six entrées ($26–34)—plus leg of suckling pig for two ($68)—there is a high premium on getting just about everything right. There are signs of higher aspirations here, but I found the food uneven.
The meal started on a promising note, with a terrific corn soup amuse-bouche. And I could have filled up on warm, soft dinner rolls with caramelized onion butter. If Forgione has learned anything from the BLT franchise, it’s a superb bread service.
The savory courses were a less happy story. A grilled fluke appetizer ($14) and a halibut entrée ($26) both seemed too tart and acidic. The fish were impeccably prepared, but the sauces seemed to overwhelm them with a bitter salty taste that I wouldn’t be eager to sample again.
A cheese plate ($12) was very solidly done, and the house comped a small pour of Sancerre to go with it.
Service was just fine, but I was in quite early, before the crowds. There is a large bar area, suggesting perhaps that management is hedging their bets as to what kind of restaurant this will be. The cocktail program is underwhelming: think raspberry lemonade with vodka. They were out of the sangria I ordered, as their supply of rum had run out.
For now, Forge strikes me as a slightly over-achieving American bistro, fighting for the destination crowd among many other restaurants that do a more dependable job at the same type of food.
Forge (134 Reade Street between Greenwich & Hudson Streets, TriBeCa)