If the owners of Greenwich Grill had asked my advice about their two-headed restaurant concept, I probably would have said, “Don’t bother.” The main dining room offers a mash-up of “Californian, Italian, and traditional French cuisines” refocused through a Japanese lens. You would guess none of this from the name, nor would you likely stumble upon the lightly-trafficked block on which it resides. And if you did walk by, you’d never guess there is a sushi bar downstairs.
Improbably enough, Greenwich Grill is actually worthwhile. A salad of 18-month cured Prosciutto di San Daniele ($12) was cloaked with parmesan and paired with beefy slices of bufola mozzarella. A lunch-sized portion of tilefish ($18) was beautifully done. Blueberry cobbler ($8) took fifteen minutes to cook, but paid off handsomely.
I tried the downstairs sushi bar, Sushi Azabu, several months ago. There is a variety of prix fixe offerings. I had the humblest of these, which set me back all of $50, including tax and tip. At that price, I was obviously not getting their most expensive stuff, but it all seemed carefully prepared. The majority of the patrons that night were Japanese-speaking, so somehow they had found this weirdly inaccessible place.
I was a bit worried when a colleague and I walked in at noon for lunch today, and we had the place to ourselves. By the time we left, they had filled all of six tables. Whatever business they have is due to word of mouth, as critics paid very little attention when it opened last year. Time Out New York awarded four of six stars to the dining room and five of six to the sushi bar. Frank Bruni in the Times was less impressed, awarding just one of four to the sushi bar and ignoring the dining room entirely.
Despite the odd collision of cuisines and concepts, the owners are Japanese, and this is their first New York restaurant. Perhaps this is why they had the folly to try something so strange, which nevertheless is surprisingly enjoyable. It is a quiet, comfortable place, and service is first-rate.
Greenwich Grill/Sushi Azabu (428 Greenwich Street between Vestry & Laight Streets, TriBeCa)