Andrew Carmellini is one of those chefs who can do anything, and get coverage. No doubt the Public Theater realized that, when they invited him to open a new restaurant in their newly-renovated building, the former Astor Library.
The theater gave him a gorgeous, cloistered space, dimly lit with dark paneling and comfortable seating. Once you’re inside, it doesn’t look at all like a restaurant attached to a performing arts center. It’s open most days till midnight, Thursdays to Saturdays till 2:00am — hours clearly intended to attract more than just a pre-theater audience.
What’s missing is a reason to go. The food is competent, of course, as you’d expect at any Carmellini place. But it feels phoned in, as if Carmellini spent fifteen minutes on it before turning his attention to the next project.
The menu is divided in three “Acts,” with various snacks ($6–13), appetizers ($12–15) and entrées ($17–27). Perhaps they were worried about pushing the metaphor: desserts are labeled, simply, “desserts” ($7–9). All of it is fairly obvious stuff.