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Feast (NYC): Centro Vinoteca

July 19, 2011

It’s kind of a downer to waste a dinner in New York City on a sub-par restaurant, so I would suggest that if you’re only in town for a few hours, you skip Centro Vinoteca. Started by Chef Anne Burrell, the restaurant is just a few blocks from tons of delicious divey restaurants in the West Village, most of which are probably more worthwhile.

Ok, that was harsh – Centro Vinoteca wasn’t bad, it was actually quite good. It just wasn’t great, and I wanted outstanding. I wanted Prune, I wanted Babbo, I wanted to be impressed.  We started with duck breast prosciutto (great), truffled deviled eggs (good) and saffron arancini (blah). Main courses were black tagliatelle with clams, mussels, shrimp, and squid (good) and the special, house-made pappardelle with mushrooms and truffle butter. This last was the unabashed winner, and I was happy to clean my plate. The pasta was fresh and perfectly cooked, and the sauce was well seasoned – not completely overwhelmed with truffle, but earthy and complex.

I also enjoyed the thoughtfully constructed wine list, and the fact that Centro serves its wine by the “quartino,” a unit of measurement about equal to a glass and a half. My quartino of Valpolicella made the truffled pasta even better.

The net result of an evening at Centro Vinoteca is positive, but not spectacular. If you live in New York, I’d say give it a try. But if you’re only there for the day, pick one of the dives down the street instead.

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