The theme for today is restaurant survival. All day long, we'll be running items on venues that have, for one reason or another, out-lived their expected life span or Deathwatch sentence. We may obsess over a venue's demise now and then, to be sure, but we can certainly appreciate a good survival story as much as the next guy.
Ours has been a strained relationship with Maremma, Cesare Casella's West Village Italian, which opened in Summer 2005 and was Deathwatched in September of this year. Initially, the restaurant was ill-conceived as a Tex-Mex-Ital and, though it got tremendous buzz, the concept was for naught. Simply, it couldn't be sustained on West 10th Street, with its limited foot traffic and neighborhood limited on tolerance for experimentation. The Deathwatch committee had ruled: Maremma was a goner.
In the last eight months, however, Cesare has proved an extremely savvy and resilient operator. In addition to having stripped away the Tex-Mex part of the concept (now it's pure Tuscan), he's now offering the only authentic bistecca fiorentina in the city, from Chianina cattle he's raised on his own farm upstate. As a result of these fixes, Maremma is now both straightforward and quite satisfying.
So, in an historic move, we're un-Deathwatching Maremma. She's leaving the hospice as we speak. Bravo to Cesare for fixing what was broken and returning to the expert form he had at Beppe, where we all came to enjoy his cooking. Castella, indeed, gets the final word, for now, which he sent to us in late 2006:
I would like to thank you for the thoughtful suggestion of Mr. Steven Kamali in your recent blog of my restaurant, Maremma, but at this time there is no intention or need to close. [We had suggested, re: the Deathwatch, that Kamali swing by -- Ed.]
In early spring of this year I made considerable changes to the restaurants' menu and concept; there is no longer a cowboy or western theme incorporated. The menu is based solely on Italian and more specifically Tuscan dishes and specialties. I would like to invite you to come in to see the restaurant with its changes in effect and to try the new menu. Business could not be better, but thank you for your continuing mention of us on your website. I hope to see you soon.
· Deathwatch: Maremma [~E~]
· On How to Read Your Restaurant Coverage: Maremma [~E~]
· Ultraluxe Cattle Stampede Into Maremma [Cutlets]