There’s nothing groundbreaking about a new Italian restaurant from a Maria Batali protégé; happens all the time. Nor is there anything novel about a restaurant with its own rooftop (or backyard) garden.
Put the two together, and you’ve got something I don’t recall seeing before: Rosemary’s. Carlos Suarez (of nearby Bobo) is the owner; Wade Moises (Babbo, Lupa, Eataly) is at the stoves.
There’s a garden on the roof—you can see it poking above the white bricks at the top of the photo above. They won’t let you forget it, either.” Rooftop Garden” is printed on the menu in a prominent spot. The Times reported, “The day’s harvest gets dropped down to the dining room in a basket on a block and tackle.” It’s a gimmick that probably doesn’t improve the quality of the food in any articulable way, but it certainly sounds good.
Less than two months after it opened, Rosemary’s is a hit. At 6:30pm on a Thursday evening, we snagged one of the last two-tops remaining. (Reservations aren’t taken, and incomplete parties aren’t seated.) By the time we left, every seat was taken and the bar was mobbed, mostly with revelers under 30.
You might expect the food to be secondary at such an establishment, but it’s surprisingly good and prices are quite reasonable. Most salads are $12 or less, most pastas $14 or less, most entrées $22 or less. That won’t last. A Porchettina entrée, listed on the preview menu at $19, is now up to $22. And a new section has been added to the menu, with dishes for two that are a lot more expensive.
But the wine list is a revelation, with almost 40 bottles at $40. Over half of them are available by the glass, at $10. (There’s also a shorter reserve list for big spenders.) These aren’t trophy wines: a 2008 Corte Majoli Valpolicella was merely okay, but it wasn’t plonk. And where else in town will you find so much to choose from at $40?
An heirloom tomato salad ($10; above left), offered as a special, was an obvious starter at this type of restaurant. To go with it, the server recommended the excellent house-made Mozzarella with basil and olive oil. To mop up every drop, we had to ask for bread, which really ought to have come with it.
All the pastas are house-made here and exploit the garden liberally. We loved Cavatelli ($14; above left) with peas, asparagus, and ricotta. Crackling pork skin complemented luscious Porchettina ($22; above right), although the schmear of baby food in the middle of the plate contributed very little.
Between the inexpensive wine list and the inexpensive menu, we ate quite happily at Rosemary’s for $96 before tax and tip. However, there are hidden costs of a meal here. The chairs are a bit uncomfortable, and it does get loud: your ears will take a beating. Servers aren’t quite as attentive as they ought to be.
The good news is that the scenesters now flocking to Rosemary’s will probably move on in a few months, but Wade Moises will probably remain a very good chef. If he sticks around, Rosemary’s could eventually be very good indeed. But I’d wait a while before going again.
Rosemary’s (18 Greenwich Ave. at W. 10th St., West Village)
Food: Rustic Italian meets Haute Barnyard
Wine: Almost 40 bottles at $40, with a smaller reserve list
Service: Competent, but occasionally inattentive
Ambiance: A boistrous, bustling streetcorner spot that gets loud
Rating: Neighborhood spot
Why? We loved the food, but not worth traveling for when you can’t reserve