West Village charmer L'Artusi has been one of the toughest tables in town since it first started serving its endlessly-documented plates of pasta back in 2008. But like everyone else, when the pandemic first hit almost two years ago, the crew had to change things up in a hurry.
"At the start of the pandemic we had to pivot like a lot of restaurants did to try and stay alive and keep our guys employed," executive chef and partner Joe Vigorito told Gothamist on a recent afternoon. "So we transformed into a delivery and takeout business."
It proved to be a big success. "We have a great group of regulars from the neighborhood," said Vigorito, "and we've gotten tremendous support during the pandemic." So much so that, even after L'Artusi started up their full table service again, the Epicurean Group team wanted to keep the takeout operation alive, though they couldn't handle the volume of both businesses from the single kitchen.
And so this expansion, in the form of two new restaurants and a takeout-only L'Artusi kitchen, was born. Located right down the block, at the corner of Hudson and West 10th Street, the new ventures are headlined by the amusingly-named spinoff B'Artusi, a pretty little wine and cocktail bar with an appealing, vegetable- and fish-forward menu of shareable small plates.
I sat at a sidewalk table outside B'Artusi on a freakishly warm evening--they've since constructed a more "indoor-outdoor" setup--and my party of three made quick work of a fair chunk of the lineup. Small plates in general can be a bit precious, but everything we ate here felt hearty and came packed with big flavors.
The Ceviche, for example, arrived in a big pile, the fish firm and bright with shredded sweet potato, radish, and fiery chilis adding to the fun. I'm a sucker for anything with "Cacio e Pepe" in the title (this won't even be the last time you hear about it in this article), and B'Artusi's grilled broccoli dish described as such did not disappoint. Also very good was the fully loaded Sicilian Chopped Salad, and the robust Lamb Meatballs, swimming in a spicy red sauce.
Other options here include Spiced Carrots, a bowl of Cockles, Wagyu Tartare with calabrian chilis, and sweets like a PB&J Tart. As Vigorito said, B'artusi makes for an elegant "landing spot" if you're waiting for a walk-in table at L'Artusi (or if you want to keep the party going after dinner is done), but it also works just fine as a destination on its own.
Even more exciting than any of that though is L'Artusi's new pastry and sandwich shop, Via Porta, serving takeout goodies from a separate storefront right next door to B'Artusi. Among the many the delights here: chef Janee Humphreys' wonderful Cacio e Pepe Scone, a perfectly-textured pastry--dense, crumbly, borderline dry but also somehow not dry at all--with baked-on pecorino romano and plenty of black pepper throughout. Worth getting here early for, because they definitely sell out.
Humphreys has several other treats in store for you, including a plump and surprisingly not-too-sweet Huckleberry Pear Poptart that actually tastes like its headliner ingredient, slabs of sticky Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf, some first-rate Chocolate Chip Cookies, and an Olive Oil Loaf that's a more portable version of her famous Olive Oil Cake over at L'Artusi.
And the sandwiches are spectacular, each one riffing on "some of our favorite dishes we've always had at L'Artusi," said Vigorito. The Uova Funghi uses the roasted mushrooms from the mothership for an eggy, breakfast-y concoction, the excellent Mattanza stuffs tuna, pickled onions, and orange slices into a chewy ciabatta roll, and the Chicken Saltimbocca is like the chicken parm of your dreams, the crispy filet bolstered by spicy capicola, provolone, bright green arrabiata sauce and a generous hunk of mozzarella. My favorite sandwich was the Arista, which combined juicy roast pork, prosciutto, provolone, pickles, and mustard for a kind of Italian take on a Cubano. This was heavenly.
There's no seating inside at Via Porta, but there are sometimes a couple of tables set up outside, and on balmier days a picnic in nearby Hudson River Park seems like the move. It's a great way to eat some first-rate L'Artusi-style food without having to deal with table waits or a crowded dining room.
Via Porta is only open until 3 p.m., when the space gets turned over to the L'Artusi takeout and delivery team, but as hinted above, the pastries sell out much earlier in the day. There's coffee here, too, as well as a few "provisions," like L'Artusi Ragu and Nonna Rose's peppers, which come to us via Vigorito's grandmother's recipe and go great with focaccia.
Via Porta and B'Artusi are located at 522 and 520 Hudson Street, respectively, at the corner of West 10th Street. Via Porta is currently open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and B'Artusi serves lunch and dinner from noon to midnight on Sunday through Thursday, and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.