Locanda Verde

(New York, NY) — It’s our second day with friends in Manhattan. The previous evening was a productive session of wining and dining at Eataly, so we’re all a little ragged this morning. Somehow we manage to cab it into Greenwich Village for late breakfast at Locanda Verde. Adjacent and connected to The Greenwich Hotel, the restaurant features rustic Italian cuisine on its normal menu but we’re curious to see what breakfast might bring...

He Fed:

I screwed up. When one of our party recommends Locanda Verde for brunch, I booked it for 10a on Friday...without realizing brunch isn’t served on weekdays. Doh. It might have been an honest mistake, or an unconscious aversion to brunch that directed my schedule snafu. Either way, we’re here and we’re hungry.

Our cabbie drops us off near the hotel entrance, so we wind our way through the lobby until we find the restaurant’s back door. Beyond, the warm dark wood of a trattoria greets us, with sumptuous booths, small four-tops, and wine bottles acting as decor. The two bars tell me this place means business during happy hour. We are shown to a table and given the relatively sparse, yet expensive, menu.

Hair of the dog sounds pretty good, so the Bloody Mary Della Casa with Italian hot peppers and mortadella is ordered immediately. It’s a well-balanced version, with just enough black pepper to add some kick. The tomato mixer is tart and fresh. No trace of vodka, so it must be the top shelf stuff. A folded wafer of cold cut adds pork salt, along with the spicy pickled peppers. I also get a latte, creamy, foamy and a much-needed injection of caffeine to help level me out.

Our waitress, demure and charming, explains that the Uova Modenese is their rendition of eggs benedict. Sold! Even though I’m not a fan of copying someone else’s order, this is too tempting; both LettersToJ and I get it. A finely ground bed of cotechino sausage—so tender and moist it must be confit—is layered with slightly wilted spinach leaves. On top of this are two perfectly poached eggs draped with a thick tomato hollandaise, and two crispy slices of rustic bread on the side. At first, I have to suppress that West Michigan prejudice against small dishes. I look at the scant bowl and wish there were more for $15, but it’s obvious the ingredients are very high quality. The taste? Incredible. I love the meaty, salty richness, broken with welcome interjections from the greenery and that silky hollandaise. I use the toast to sop it all up until there’s nothing left in the bowl, and I’m pleasantly full.

I do take a taste of Cookie’s Zucchini Frittata and declare it even better than my benedict. Roasted tomato, goat cheese, and fiore di zucca in a skillet crisp egg-potato omelette...delicious! Even then, I had no idea how nice the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes would be. Light and fluffy, they are easily as good as the ones Juliet and I tried at Electric Cheetah a while back. Creamy Meyer lemon curd and fresh blueberries brighten these pancakes. We share forkful after forkful, and it’s honestly very hard to stop eating.

At the end of the meal, we’re all feeling a little better, at least enough to hike it around Central Park in the nippy weather. In spite of my dislike for brunch, I wouldn’t mind trying it at Locanda Verde someday. Next time, I’ll get the schedule right.
She Fed:

This morning I am not excited about breakfast. Even though Locanda Verde comes highly recommended by a Manhattanite foodie friend, I ‘ve had too many mediocre breakfasts to get my hopes up. It’s like lunch and dinner got all the innovation and breakfast was forgotten. After one too many unbearable brunches in our hometown (middling food, poor service, and pricey downtown parking), we pretty much gave up on breakfast out. But we’re on vacation, so off we go.

We cab it to Tribeca, four of us schmooshed into a cab for three. Jeremy uses Google Maps to help the cabbie find the exact spot. I love how my once introverted hubster will strike up an easy conversation with nearly anyone these days. We emerge from the car, perhaps looking slightly worn from last night’s indulgences, squinting in the sunlight. Locanda Verde is located in the Greenwich Hotel and as we enter I seem to recall reading something about DeNiro being a partner in the hotel. We wind through the lobby to the restaurant which is warm and glowing with lots of wood, brick, and big windows. I feel comfortable immediately.

The breakfast menu is small, which I hope means they do everything supremely well. I contemplate a mimosa, but after a wine tasting class last night followed by a drinking tour of Eataly, I think I better behave. A double latte is in my future along with copius amounts of ice water.

I’m usually a savory girl when it comes to breakie, but there’s several sweet options calling out to me this morning. Toasted hazelnut French toast, lemon ricotta pancakes, and the whole grain waffle with berries and a marscarpone cream all sound tempting. In the end, I opt for two poached eggs with garlic potatoes and whole grain toast, plus a side of Niman Ranch bacon...for the table to share.

My eggs arrive perfectly and beautifully poached. The yolks are deliciously runny and the whites aren’t overly cooked or rubbery. The potatoes are crackling crisp on the outside with a hint of garlic when I bite into them. A potato bit daubed into the yolk is an absolutely perfect bite. My toast is served with a slightly bitter citrus marmalade that’s more than a little addictive. The bacon is spot on, thick with a deeply smoked flavor. We’ve had some wimpy bacon lately, but these porky strips reign supreme.

Turns out we all had our eye on the ricotta pancakes, so we split an order. They look thick and hulking on the plate, with a puddle of lemon curd, a smattering of blueberries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Once I cut into them though, they’re light as a cloud. I don’t use the word ethereal much unless I’m talking about butterfly wings or Grammy outfits, but the pancakes are truly ethereal. Locanda Verde has made me a believer in breakfast out again; I want to try lunch or dinner during our next visit.

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