Corvo Bianco, a new coastal Italian restaurant from restaurateur Luis Gonzalez, opens for service next Monday on the Upper West Side. Located just a block away from the Hayden Planetarium, the new venture features a menu from Executive Chef Elizabeth Falkner of Food Network fame (Iron Chef America, Top Chef, Chopped All Stars).
The impressive space, formally occupied by Calle Ocho, is meticulously designed and decorated. The first chamber has a bar for 20-30 people with a small area for high tables. Through a hallway lies the main dining room, sitting underneath a large, glass greenhouse atrium. The dining room is laid out roughly like a gothic church: the "apse" in the back with seating, tables filling the center and left aisles, with booths along the far right wall. In fact, the whole room feels very gothic, with a raised glass ceiling letting in pleasantly soft, natural light. There's an additional bar and seating area off the main space, visible through aqueduct gaps in the exposed brick wall.
The decor evokes extreme Restoration Hardware. Dark, weathered woods, matte-black steels, exposed bricks, stones, and timber ornament. The design is well-articulated and clear, if a little stock, though Corvo Bianco embraces that aesthetic precisely. It never feels like it is trying to be something more. It's very open and moveable, even when it is at capacity, and though last night's press preview was noisey and bustling, it was never uncomfortable. At night, with a healthy crowd, it seems like a welcome spot to pass the time with a small group. The music is unobtrusive, the look Expensive Rustic and Sleek Industrial, and all of it is inoffensive and functional.
A selection of antipasti from Falkner, who was making the rounds at a press preview last night, was varied and fresh. Some highlights: black rice balls (fresh, rich), pecorino shortbread (deceptively good), a carrot, celery, roasted red pepper and cauliflower salad (quite nice), a selection of salami (classic), grilled shrimp (perfectly done), and a variety of pizzas. Falkner won 1st place in 2012 at the World Pizza Championships in Naples, Italy, so yeah, the pizza is good. Also offered was a tequila cocktail with hot sauce and rosemary and an appropriately summery champagne vodka cocktail with strawberry.
446 Columbus Avenue // 212-595 2624