A friend who was visiting brought me to this place, it comes highly recommended by another friend who lives in NYC. Located in West Village and recently opened in June this year, Rosemary is a casual Italian restaurant which only takes walk-ins. The space is wide open with a lot of natural light, with glass windows that open up to the street. Wooden tables are spread across the area with tables lined along the circumference of the restaurant and communal tables in the middle. Bar seats also available. Rosemary is also known for having a simple outdoor garden on the second floor. The garden is worth a tour, if only to see the vegetables that will be served to you at your table, extending the farm-to-table concept further to a rooftop-to-table one.
Upon looking at the menu, I immediately fell in love with the simplicity of how the dishes are organised and laid out. On the right side, appetizers, cheeses and cold cuts; the middle, sandwiches and breads; on the left, salads, pastas and main courses. I enjoyed the octopus appetizer which was served cold and laid out like a big thin slice of sausage. We suspect that it was made like a sausage, with some gelatin included for it the entire concoction to stick together. It was refreshing and not too chewy and compares with the best pulpo (octopus in Spanish) I have eaten while in Spain. The lamb sandwich was made with fresh focaccia, and the surprising addition of apricot enhanced the flavours of the big chunks of braised tender lamb shank.
I also adore the homemade pastas at Rosemary. They serve two types: the orecchiette with braised greens and homemade sausage and a cavatelli with a duck ragu. The orecchiette is a mainstay on the menu while the second homemade pasta type changes based on the season. That is one of the things I love about farm-to-table restaurants: the menu changes every so often so you never get bored or jaded with the choices! The orecchiette has, in the words of a friend, a texture similar to dumpling skin, but without the alkaline taste that frequently accompanies dumpling skins. It is chewy and thicker than the usual orecchiette but oh so al dente. The dish is also made spicier with the addition of red cut chilies and the kick that it provides matches the braised vegetables (which again changes according to the season), chunks of sausage and light cream sauce. The cavatelli has a more regular thickness and is less chewy. The flavour of the tomato-based ragu was steeped on the surface of the cavatelli, and while I prefer the orecchiette because it is more interesting, the cavatelli does not pale in comparison.
The highlight for me was the olive oil cake (pictured above). Now this is a dessert that I wouldn’t usually order but it is THE signature dessert at Rosemary. When it arrived at the table, I immediately recognised the faint aroma of olive oil. The cake was dressed with crème fraiche and a rough blueberry coulis and the cake itself had a slightly crunchy exterior, while being light and moist on the inside. The taste of olive oil was not overwhelming but still maintained its unique flavouring towards the cake. The crème fraiche and coulis served as highly important supporting characters, further enhancing the entire combination instead of the sometime trick of restaurants serving up dry cake masked with a sauce to help it go down better.
The food at Rosemary comes on small plates and is definitely made for sharing, with the average portion being around three-quarters of a regular serving size. The prices are kept very reasonable, all pastas are US$14 or below. Finally, I think that the mark of a good restaurant is when you know what you want to order the next time you go. While sitting at the bar during brunch on my second visit, I watched the bartender bake (yes, bake!) rounds of bacon and put them gingerly atop of the bloody marys. Bloody Marys for me are usually misses but I cannot wait to try Rosemary’s version!
Rosemary’s Enoteca and Trattoria
18 Greenwich Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Tel: +1 212 647 1818< >www.rosemarysnyc.com