Note: Trattoria Cinque closed in March 2013. A Marc Forgione steakhouse is expected to replace it.
The cinque in the name, meaning “five,” is the central conceit. On the menu, you’ll find five appetizers, five pastas, five entrées, five red wines, five whites, five cocktails, five desserts, and so forth. They’ll change it five times a year.
The 250-seat space could easily house two restaurants with room to spare. That was Devin Tavern’s downfall. Cinque could have the same problem, especially with Andrew Carmellini serving two-star food at Locanda Verde down the street.
The owners of the Alfredo of Rome chain have done a nice job with the rehab, installing a handsome, long marble bar and comfortable faux-rustic seating (photos here). The restaurant was about 80% full by 8:00 p.m. on a Friday. Keeping it that way may be a challenge.
At least the menu is priced to encourage repeat visits. There are just two dishes over $20, and just two wines over $40. I sampled two of those wines at the bar, where quartinos (equivalent to two glasses) range from $9–16. A bowl of olives with parmesan on the side was free. A respectable serving of Italian cheeses, grapes, and figs with raisin bread was just $10.
At the table, rustic bread was nothing to write home about, but I loved the ricotta spread flecked with olive oil. In lieu of bottled water, there is house-filtered water, still or sparkling, offered at no charge. We couldn’t decide, so they served both.
We ordered far too much food, receiving no guidance from our young waiter. He then compounded the mistake by telling the kitchen to send out the pasta and both entrées simultaneously. A manager came over to apologize and then comped the entire meal. We aren’t sure if it was due to these mistakes alone, or because he was aware of our camera.
We loved the Pizza with Gorgonzola and Pears ($12), with a crisp crust no thicker than matzo. But at eighteen inches across, this was no appetizer. Even if it had been our only item, we might have struggled to finish. It’s arguably too rich for two people; we took more than half of it home in a doggie bag.
There were two recited specials, but though they sounded intriguing, they were the weakest things we tried. Penne with Italian Sausage (above right) was of the “I-could-make-this-at-home” variety, except that most home cooks would probably do it better. Veal (below left) had been pounded so thin that there was barely any flavor, and it was cold by the time we tasted it.
An aged ribeye steak was wonderful, especially as it was just $25. It isn’t the best ribeye in the city, but it was one of the better ones outside of a steakhouse. I doubt you’ll find many this good within ten dollars of the price.
Trattoria Cinque is certainly generous with portion sizes, and all of the items we had off of the printed menu were good. If the restaurant can stick to what it does well, perhaps it will be able to fill those 250 seats.
Trattoria Cinque (363 Greenwich Street near Franklin Street, TriBeCa)