Towards the end of two weeks of non-stop eating, drinking, walking and raining that made up the Christmas period, we had one last dinner reservation left. Just as dusk arrived, we reached the end of the Highline, stopped off for a drink with a view, and then headed to Barbuto.
Fairy lights were strewn round the glass exterior of this stark garage-like room, which is almost utilitarian with its white-painted brick walls, open kitchen, long, tiled bar, and many, many simple chairs and tables squeezed into the airy space. 6pm on a Wednesday evening in the midst of the holidays, and it was already packed, the room echoing with happy, chatty voices.
With a cold, crisp Soave wine poured and glasses clinked, we fought over the polpetta farcita, and the classic New York starter of a kale salad. This insalata di cavolo was one of the best we've eaten in the city - lightly dressed with pecorino, breadcrumbs and anchovy, the shredded leaves were salty, light and crunchy.
We'd read the rave reviews about the chicken, so obviously a huge bowlful of juicy, butter roasted chicken and salsa verde followed. I can't resist gnocchi or squash (especially not when the two are combined) on any menu, so gnocchi with delicata squash and pumpkin seeds was mine all mine. The candied pumpkin seeds added sweetness and bite, the gnocchi were slightly crisp and fluffy, and slices of squash scattered in between made for a very pretty plate. The boys also devoured the braised goat, which I have on report was very, very rich (not that that stopped every last scrap being eaten), and a simple, but very beautiful plate of wild striped bass was another popular dish from our hungry party.
Despite all this fabulous food, the highlight was the potatoes. Although, now I remember that the sprouts were wonderful too. But the potatoes really won: unbelievably crisp, doused in pecorino and rosemary, and piled high, high, high. I don't really want to eat another potato which isn't an exact replica of these, ever again.
Barbuto, 775 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014