It was only last March when chef Jonathan Waxman announced that, after 15 years of serving roast chicken to well-heeled West Villagers, he was shutting down Barbuto. The charming, two-story brick building had been sold, and the new owners didn't want a restaurant at street level. The neighborhood mourned, but Waxman vowed to keep the Barbuto magic alive somewhere else, somewhere nearby, and sometime soon.

And there was magic to the place — on warm evenings when the garage doors were flung wide open to Washington Street, or in the winter when we figuratively huddled around the open kitchen's roaring fires, the feeling here was always of giddy dinner parties, of happy family celebrations, of possible celebrity sightings, of dates going very, very well.

Somewhat miraculously, less than a year later and only "300 steps away" from his beloved original, Waxman unveiled Barbuto 2.0 earlier this week, located below a luxury rental tower on the corner of Horatio and West Streets. And if the comparatively enormous space lacks some of the quirky charm of its former home, there is still much to be enchanted by here.

For one thing, even though the room is probably twice as big, Waxman has so far kept the same number the seats as before, capping it at 74. This means there's plenty of space between every table, bestowing a subtle VIP vibe upon each party. Sunsets here will likely be lovely, thanks to the full-length windows looking out over the Hudson River, and those dramatic archways facing Horatio, moodily lit come nightfall, give the place an extra bit of romance.

Waxman's open kitchen is now somewhat removed from the dining area, but you can still feel the energy coming from the eastern end of the space, if not any actual heat from the flames. A lengthy bar runs along the northern, windowless wall, with padded stools that look comfortable enough to perch upon for several drinks and a meal. Basically, as at the original, there's a sense that, yes, this is exactly where I want to be right now.

Food-wise, Waxman is not taking any chances with his reboot so far, and the menu is essentially a compilation of his Washington Street classics. And so, yes, of course the chicken is here. Or rather the Pollo al Forno, roasted up as crisp-skinned and juicy as ever, punctuated by just the right amount of salsa verde. It remains an iconic NYC dish. The famous kale salad—Insalata di Cavolo—is also back, and exactly as excellent as you may remember, though maybe the mound is a bit smaller than in the old days.

There are four pastas available at the opening, a Risotto with Lobster, a Rigatoni with Boar, a Gnocchi with Mushroom, and a stellar Carbonara, which my companion and I had for the first time on Tuesday and thought it the best thing to hit our table. It's creamy, wonderfully peppery, loaded with chewy guanciale, and the fat noodles are cooked to perfection.

Also very good was the Manzo ai Ferri, with slabs of tender hanger steak set among bitter, lightly dressed bits of various chicory. The plate of roasted Patate looked fantastic, all brown and crackly, but tasted rather ordinary. And on opening night the $6 bread basket was a bit of sham. Get your carbs in the Primi section of the menu, would be my advice.

Other Barbuto dishes you might recognize from days gone by include the Squid Salad, the garlicky greens listed as Verdure, and the Grilled Swordfish with anchovy butter. Of course, Waxman plays with his menu slightly almost every day, and this is still technically Barbuto 2.0's "soft opening," so things can change, but you get the idea.

The soft opening tag also means that, right now, the hours are in flux, and only a limited number of walk-ins are being served every night. We showed up at 5 p.m. on Tuesday hoping the doors were about to open, then waited an hour to get in (turns out service was from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.), and they didn't even take many of the people who were waiting on the modest line. Regulars from the past, it seems, were given reservations, and they were greeted warmly upon arrival, but if you don't like uncertainty it might be best to wait a couple of weeks before showing up unannounced.

The new Barbuto is located at 113 Horatio Street, at the corner of West Street (barbutonyc.com)