114_1493.JPG Gothamist recently visited the new East Village offshoot of Quartino -- the original location is down near the South Street Seaport. This location is the Bottega Organica:

The whole-wheat flour for bread, fresh pasta, pizza and desserts is organic. All dishes are prepared with Ligurian extra virgin olive oil added raw to maintain its delicate flavor, nutritional properties and natural vitamins. The seasonal greens come from organic markets.

. . . and so on. The space is sparse and simply decorated, with a long and narrow pew-style bench along the left wall. The small tables are lined up against the bench, and there is a bar area in the front, which seats about five. A shelf behind the bench decoratively displays the wine offerings, many of which are organic. Quartino has a very romantic-looking garden in the back, but we chose to stay indoors that night. We were still able to enjoy the summer breeze which came through the large garage-sized door.

On to the food. Gothamist was lucky to be part of a large group, and we were able to taste almost everything on the menu. We were the most impressed with the salads and the pasta. Everything was prepared very simply, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Our favorite salad was the pere, parmigano e noci -- arugula salad with pear, parmigiano reggiano and walnuts, and the spinach gnocchi with a light summery tomato sauce hit the spot. The two fish dishes we got as mains were only lightly seasoned, served with delicious roasted rosemary potatoes and some spinach, but the portions were on the small side.

We were surprised when the focaccia al formaggio, billed as "a house specialty" came out looking more like a quesadilla than a focaccia. Bizzare. The service was a tad spotty as well -- we didn't get bread, we kept having to ask for silverware when ours got taken away between courses, but they were friendly and cordial.

We'd probably go back to check out their brunch, or the focaccia sandwiches they offer for lunch, both of which looked tasty, or to have wine and cheese in the garden on our next hot date.

Quartino Bottega Organica, 11 Bleecker Street at Bowery, East Village/NoHo, (212) 529-5133.
Quartino, 21 Peck Slip at Water Street, South Street Seaport, (212) 349-4433.