Seven years ago, on the almost-annual trip to New York, we wandered into an unassuming little Italian restaurant on the Lower East Side called Sauce. It was late – we’d been to see a show – and there were few places still serving dinner at the hour. We found two seats at the tiny bar and had a really delightful meal. The food was good and the bartender who serve it was delightful and engaging. We had decided we would go back on the next trip to the city.
And then a fire closed it.
But we found on our visit last week that it has finally reopened, so we went back, this time at a table in the expanded dining area, and we enjoyed it even more.
We had the arancini filled with beef and bits of mozzarella for an appetizer. I liked the crispy crust and the bits of meat.
I chose the cacio pepe for my primi with a side of meatballs. The house-made spaghetti was cooked to a chewy al dente and had the right amount of black pepperyness. The meatballs were nice and dense.
My companion had the lasagna, an impressive brick of fresh pasta planks with beef bolognese, mozzarella and béchamel sauce.
Our server couldn’t have been more charming. She gave us extra attention and even chatted about the restaurant’s return. She had worked at Sauce before the fire and continued working at one of the business’ pizza outlets during the rebuild. It says a lot about a place – especially in New York – that keeps its employees happy even when something like a fire can close a place down.
We’re looking forward to another visit.
I was anxious to try the recently opened Roscioli NYC because just last year I had dined at the original in Rome.
The New York version is smaller but also has a main level dining room and a basement area. The downstairs is dedicated to people who choose the tasting menu option. We ordered a la carte.
One of the appetizers we enjoyed in Rome, the burrata with anchovies, was also on the menu here, but with a big difference. In Rome, the serving featured three scoops of the creamy cheese; here, just one. And priced at $30. Good, but maybe not that good.
My companion chose the porchetta di maiolino, a pork roll with mushrooms in a celeriac puree that was delicious.
Luckily it was shared with me because my companion had finished the dish before my carbonara had arrived. When I pointed this out to my server, she made it her mission not only to see that the carbonara was delivered as quickly as possible – it was delicious, with chewy hunks of thick bacon – but also to make sure that the oversight hadn’t put a complete damper on our evening. She brought us more wine, removed the fee for the carbonara from the bill and brought over one of the owners who was visiting from Italy to say hello and also offer his apologies.
Restaurateurs, take note: That’s how you handle an unfortunate situation. Needless to say we left happy (and without taking up our server’s offer of complimentary dessert).
The New York restaurant doesn’t have the same vibe as the Roscioli in Campo de’ Fiori – how could it? – but it should do well here.