Gallery: White & Church: Italian Small Plates (And Bug Cocktails) in Tribeca

Octopus and foie gras ($11)
Octopus and foie gras ($11)

With potatoes, basil pesto, and black olives. Thin petals of foie are beautiful alone, and they dissolve fluidly on the tongue, a soft melt under that outside crisp; get a piece that's been sitting under an olive, though, and that flavor dominates completely. The octopus is surprisingly tender—not chewy in the slightest—though some parts crossed from soft over the line to mushy. The components got eaten alone, rather than together; why does foie gras appear with ingredients that dominate it? The dish seemed to have at least one ingredient too many.

Smoked Salmon Martini ($15)
Smoked Salmon Martini ($15)

Smoky, indeed, but it doesn't convince us that mixing vodka and scotch, as they do here, is a brilliant idea. The addition of a piece of smoked salmon is interesting enough; dipped in the drink, its smokiness is amplified by the scotch, and if left in the mix, contributes a salinity that's not at all unpleasant. But it's not clear exactly what you're supposed to do with it. Dip it just once? Let it swim around?

Farro with baby artichokes ($9)
Farro with baby artichokes ($9)

With baby artichokes and Pecorino. It was one of the best cool dishes, the farro retaining just a bit of a bite, a tomato confit adding a pleasant, concentrated sweetness.

Pecorino cheese creme brulee ($9)
Pecorino cheese creme brulee ($9)

A holdover from Il Matto's appetizer menu—a savory custard suffused with that hard cheese's distinctive flavor. It's a beautifully plated dish and the shatter-crisp sugar shell works strangely well with the pecorino, salt meets sweet, smoky char against the creamy base; strands of a red onion marmelade and a balsamic reduction cut through The custard itself wasn't perfectly silken, but this is one of the few dishes in which novelty was a strong suit; it's unexpected in a good way.

Zucchini blossoms ($9)
Zucchini blossoms ($9)

They're served with a light tomato sauce, but otherwise unadorned. Without a good outside crisp, a bite from these large, floppy specimens isn't particularly appealing.

The Bar
The Bar

Dominating the dining room, it was on our visit occasionally backlit by flashing light panels, occasionally sedate, as if it couldn't quite decide where it was.

Carbonara pasta two ways ($13)
Carbonara pasta two ways ($13)

Both a traditional spaghetti and a mezzaluna filled with the egg-cheese sauce that generally coats the pasta in the dish; of these, the spaghetti was the better prepared, properly al dente, whereas the skins of the filled pasta were a bit tough. The pancetta doesn't quite integrate into the dish—the bits we had were chewy enough to be distracting; still, even though that component seems tossed on top, it's a tasty creation.

Mini meatballs ($9)
Mini meatballs ($9)

Drier than we'd like, with no meaty juices to speak of; no complaints about the straightforward tomato sauce, but altogether it's not a particularly impressive dish.

Fries ($6)
Fries ($6)

Crispy on the outside, incredibly fluffy within, these were the first to disappear from the table.

White & Church: Italian Small Plates (And Bug Cocktails) in Tribeca