The brownstone front of Barbetta is adorned with twinkling lights in the nighttime. Once inside, it’s as if one has stepped back in time, to an old-fashioned bar room. Adorned with 18th century Piemontese antiques, the restaurant reminds one of a classic dining experience of old New York. The ornately-decorated main dining room has an 18th century Piemontese chandelier.
The evening we dined, only the garden was open, which is lovely in itself. The garden area is nestled under a cover of trees, whisking one out of the bustle of New York City. Dining tables surround a fountain. Grottos of statutes line the walls. The impeccably dressed waitstaff are attentive yet not obtrusive.
The regular menu is extensive with many delicious-sounding options. My friend and I chose the Restaurant Week menu. We got the garganelli in tomato and basil sauce to start.
I don’t usually order macaroni with gravy, as my family calls it, when I’m out because the tomato sauce doesn’t taste like what I can get at home. However, this was delicious, and I wished that I had had my mother’s size serving of it.
I saw that the regular menu had roasted red peppers alla bagna cauda. I have been wanting to try bagna cauda since my chef friend introduced me to it. Apparently, Barbetta was the first restaurant to serve bagna cauda in the United States. So I got an order of roasted peppers as well. It was excellent.
For my entree, I got the broiled Atlantic salmon with an herbed sauce and cucumbers. It was excellent.
My friend ordered the boneless New York shell steak alla Fiorentina. He said he had never ordered a steak in an Italian restaurant before but said it was one of the best he’d ever had. (And he is a big fan of New York City steakhouses.)
When I made the reservations online, I must’ve said it was my birthday dinner. While we were waiting for our desserts, the head waiter came out with a piece of cake with a lighted candle in it. The rest of the waitstaff huddled around our table and sang “Happy Birthday” to me. What a great surprise, as I had completely forgotten I had said it was my birthday dinner. The plate was decorated with the words “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate icing. The flourless chocolate cake was topped with various nuts and was delicious.
I could handle two desserts, as anyone who knows me, knows. I ordered red fruits soup from the Restaurant Week menu. I’d seen this before but never had it. I’m a big fan of summer berries, so naturally this seemed like a good dessert to order. It was very good, but I would’ve liked it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
My friend ordered the pears baked in red wine alla Piemontese. This dish was delicious and would also have been good with vanilla ice cream.
The entire evening at Barbetta was an unforgettable one. The lovely surroundings, the good food, the friendly waitstaff. It all makes for the quintessential New York restaurant experience.