"Who knew that an Italian restaurant in Tribeca would produce New York's best breakfast?"
377 Greenwich Street, New York NY 10013 (at North Moore Street; map); 212-925-3797
Service: Friendly and attitude-free
Setting: Hotel restaurant that doesn't feel like one
Compare It To: Trestle on Tenth, Norma's, Sarabeth's
Must-Haves: Any of the pastries and muffins, sheep's milk ricotta, cotechino hash, toasted hazelnut French Toast, crispy garlic potatoes
Cost: $6 to $14
Buying tips, techniques, and recipes, no matter how you like them.
The food world is a-Twitter-ing and a-chattering about Locanda Verde, and why not? Robert DeNiro's involved; it's succeeding a highly visible failure, Ago; critics' and eaters' fave Andrew Carmellini is the chef; and perhaps just as exciting for me, former Craft pastry chef Karen DeMasco is coming off a two-year absence from the New York restaurant scene and returning to the fray, and the ovens, at Locanda Verde.
So it wasn't exactly a complete surprise when I had an incredible dinner the first night Locanda Verde opened to the public. And it wasn't a shock when I had an extraordinarily delicious lunch there with Zach Brooks that featured an untraditional porchetta sandwich that crossed a Tony Luke's roast pork sandwich with a muffuletta.
But when I heard that DeMasco was doing an all-morning and all-day pastry and coffee bar for both Greenwich Hotel guests and serious eaters alike, and a pretty extensive breakfast menu to go along with it, I knew it was going to be good, seriously good in fact. But what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that Locanda Verde just might be serving the best breakfast in New York City, and maybe anywhere. Don't believe me? Let me show you.
Let me start with the Pastry Mista ($11), the mixed breakfast pastry platter. You get three, and after sampling seven I really can't steer you in any definitive direction.
Olive oil coffee cake? Cinammon-y moist perfection.
Fig and almond muffin: Totally streusal-ly delicious
Blueberry polenta muffin: Supremely moist and packed with fresh blueberries.
Hazelnut sticky bun: Flaky, light, and moist at the same time. That's not easy to do. Plus, it's not too sweet.
Parmesan scone: It's the ultimate Italian cheese biscuit.
Strawberry scone: Same thing. Best strawberry biscuit ever.
Zucchini bread: The most pedestrian item of the bunch? That would be wrong. Good luck picking three. You will experience the most delicious buyer's remorse ever.
And the house-made strawberry-rhubarb preserves and the honey butter that come with it? Truly amazing.
You might be tempted to pass on the Sheep's Milk Ricotta ($9). That would be a serious mistake. Creamy, tangy imported Italian sheep's milk ricotta laced with truffled honey. You could just eat it with a spoon and be perfectly content. But to maximize your deliciousness slather it on the ridiculously good burnt orange toast that comes with it. You will definitely know some things you didn't know before eating this.
Uova Modenese ($11) turns out to be Carmellini's brilliant corned beef hash and eggs Benedict mash-up. It's made with house-made cotechino hash, spinach, and tomato hollandaise. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? It is.
Cloud-light and mega-tender lemon ricotta pancakes ($13) come with fresh blueberries and Meyer lemon curd. They could have used a slightly more crisp veneer but I am truly nitpicking here.
Perhaps even better is the toasted hazelnut French toast ($14), served with a citrus salad. Just crispy enough on the outside and tender and slightly moist inside, and the toasted hazelnuts add the right amount of crunch and nuttiness.
The crispy polenta waffle ($14) comes with fresh local strawberry slices and a mascarpone topping that is more tart than sweet. It's a good waffle, but unlike just about everything else I sampled here, eating it isn't like tasting a waffle for the very first time.
Let's talk about the most abused breakfast side dish ever: the potato. If you're as tired as I am of limp, off-white Greek coffee shop hash browns, you are sure to appreciate the crispy garlic potatoes ($6) here. Chunks of crispy on-the-outside tender on-the-inside golden brown local potatoes suffused with enough garlic flavor to cure any cold. I'm telling you, these are world championship-level hash browns, at least the order I had.
We're going to weigh in on lunch and dinner at Locanda Verde next week, but serious eaters should now know that a truly inspired and seriously delicious breakfast awaits them at Locanda Verde. No need to wait in line for overpriced gimmicky breakfast at Norma's or even brunch at Sarabeth's. Who knew that an Italian restaurant in Tribeca would produce New York's best breakfast?