The pewter-and-bruise sky rumbled, but the diners in the garden below hardly noticed. Wistful music drifted from the speakers as a couple bent heads furtively and a group of friends languidly toasted the last night of summer with glittering gold wine. The rain never fell, and we had the feeling that it couldn't, not here. The back patio at PT, like the rustic Italian food served there, conveys the sense that all manner of things shall be well.
A mild country white and a crisp rosemary flatbread arrived first, accompanied by two nubbins of organic goat cheese, a vinegar-and-oil dip, and two plates from the Carlyle, that Upper East Side stalwart, their gold logos starting to fade. Much more bread than two people could realistically eat, it kept us company throughout the meal.
The PT Salad ($10) used mango and black olives to undercut the bitterness of such greens as rucola and red endive. Stripes of fennel and tricornes of Parmesan helped too. Overall, a good, well-dressed mix.
Our second appetizer, the carpaccio ($14), liquified on its way from the slicer in the kitchen to our garden table. The filet mignon had been sliced so thinly, pounded so utterly, and drenched in oil so completely, that the solid became un-solid. As a result, the meat traded flavor for texture. But we'd happily drink this meat again.
From the primi menu, we tried malloredus ($14), a sturdy yet airy pasta also known as Sardinian gnocchi, tossed with sweet tomato sauce and savory homemade sausage meatballs. The pasta's lines, ridges, and openings gave the tongue plenty to do. A restrained eater might manage to eke out two portions, but we're not restrained when it comes to pasta cooked delectably al dente. Sorry, waistline. We know we've apologized to you before.
And from the secondi menu, filetto di maiale ($18), oven-roasted pork tenderloin served in puff pastry. To prepare, we were given a hefty knife, survivalist-sized. While not fork-tender, the pork wasn't as tough as such a knife would imply. The puff pastry resembled a croissant, flaky in places and gummy in others from the touch-too-saccharine gravy. Rather than the fingerling potatoes promised by the menu, we received soft grains tossed with bacon. If we didn't know fall was coming, this dish would have reminded us.
Along with our check came two complimentary shots of powerful grappa. Yowsers! Speaking of adult beverages, oenophiles will like the choices available, mostly reds, by the glass or bottle. Even those of us who live in New York sometimes forget that whole lives exist beyond the facades we walk by, that you can go into some of them, walk up a few steps, and exit into a better version of the urbanity you just left. With its feel-good Italian fare and magical garden, PT is best for: a date under the stars.