The owners of The Greenwich Project, a new restaurant in Greenwich Village, must be commitment averse. Their corporate name is The Project Group, and all of their restaurants are The ______ Project. With names like that, you can do anything. All options are open.
They have a candidate for the world’s worst restaurant website, which cannot be bothered to transmit basic information like hours of operation or menus.
Their facebook pages are slightly more informative. Slightly. As I gather, The Mulberry Project, in Little Italy, is known mainly as an inventive cocktail den. The Vinatta Project (in the former Florent space), is a cocktail and comfort food spot. Or perhaps I’m mistaken. It’s hard to tell.
The Greenwich Project aims higher. There’s talent in the kitchen: Carmine di Giovanni, a former chef de cuisine at Picholine and David Burke Townhouse. Those places aren’t cheap, and this one isn’t either. With appetizers $15–21 and entrées $28–39, you’re going to drop some coin to dine here.
There’s no doubt Manhattanites will pay those prices at the right restaurant, but there’s not much margin for error. They’ll need a cavalcade of strong reviews and word-of-mouth to keep the place full.
And they’ve got a lot of space: a casual ground floor and a more elegant dining room upstairs. Grub Street reported that the bar room downstairs is meant to serve only small plates, but we were seated there and ordered from the full menu.
There was a decent crowd on a Monday evening, but it wasn’t full, and we didn’t look upstairs. We probably should have: if the photos posted on Grub Street are any indication, it’s the kind of comfortable, modern elegant room suitable for the kind of upscale food the chef wants to serve. The ground floor is nice enough for a casual restaurant in Greenwich Village, but it feels like everything ought to cost $5–10 less.
If I’m right about that, you may be reading in a few months that The Greenwich Room has introduced a new, less expensive menu, with happy hour specials and a $35 prix fixe. But this is a review of what The Greenwich Project is now, not what it might become. And right now, if you don’t mind the prices, you’ll find it’s a very good restaurant.
(Click on the thumbnail, above right, for a photo of the main menu. There are also small-plates and vegetarian menus, which I didn’t photograph.)
The amuse bouche was a cube of salmon with a crumble of diced peaches. We shared an appetizer of guanciale with fresh kimchi ($15; above right): a rich man’s crisped bacon, with plenty of flavor.
The kitchen comped two servings of the hamachi crudo (normally $20; above left). The garnish of pickled ramps and jalapeño may be familiar, but this excellent dish was a reminder of why it works so well.
Scallops ($36; above right) were served with morels, fava, salsify, and a foie gras sabayon. Scallop lovers would moan with satisfaction, but skeptics would say that for $36 one ought to have more foie gras than just hints in a technically correct sauce.
Ramps made another appearance, along with crawfish, in lobster cavatelli ($29; above left), a first-rate pasta that is one of the few entrées south of $30. The meal ended with a small plate of petits fours.
If you’re drinking, the emphasis here is on cocktails (mostly $14) and whiskies, including an impressive list of single-malts, better than I’ve seen in a long time. There is apparently a wine list, which the server neglected to present and I never bothered to ask for, the other forms of libation having occupied my attention.
I have my doubts about the viability of this place: the owners don’t have a background in fine dining, the chef isn’t well known, and this might not be the right location for it. But for now it’s all optimism. The chef is serving a high-gloss menu, unbounded by demand, hoping that demand will follow.
The Greenwich Project (47 W. 8th St. btwn 5th & 6th Avenues, Greenwich Village)
Food: High-gloss modern American, with French technique
Service: Not as glossy as the food, but good enough
Ambiance: A sleek, casual bar room downstairs; more elegant upstairs