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Good News/Bad News: Locanda Verde

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After a long, drawn out swan song, Ago finally shuttered last month, but it didn't take long for owner Robert De Niro to turn the space around into a brand new restaurant. With Andrew Carmellini at the stoves, it reopened two weeks ago as Locanda Verde to a whirlwind of early buzz and excitement. Early reviews have been pouring in and most agree with the build-up: Locanda Verde is doing a lot of things right. Of note: the oven-roasted chicken for two and Ken Friedman's "shiny" interior. On to the mostly positive, with a little negativity mixed in for good measure:

The Mostly Good News: Gourmet writes that, while it may be crowded and noisy, the menu options are almost too good, "Andrew Carmellini (late of A Voce, and before that Daniel) has a talent for writing appealing menus, and [...] ordering can take a long time. Especially when the prices are so reasonable; portions are generous and nothing costs more than twenty-five bucks. The restaurant is so cramped that, wriggling into my seat, I nearly knocked the water off my neighbor’s table (he had similar issues as he made an exit). All that crowding does not exactly make a quiet room; this is not the place for a soulful tête à tête. But if you’re looking for a deliciously buzzy evening (Robert De Niro owns it after all), this may be exactly what you’re after." [Gourmet]

The Bad News: A Yelper reports that he won't be returning, no matter how good the chicken for two looked, "I definitely wouldn't go back to this place, I'll say that much. We ordered the grilled bass with shrimp scampi sauce. The fish was bland, small and the shrimps on the side were tiny and out of a can (I'm not kidding). This was what the snooty waitress described as a very flavorfill dish -bland. When we complained that the fish was a small piece of fish the waitress simply reply well order more food. If you do go, people on either side of us order the chicken for 2 which is 19 per person and that looked delicious. But I definitely won't be back to try the chicken." [Yelp]

The Fantastic News: A Menupages user seems pretty positive about everything: "We tried Locanda Verde this past weekend and our group of 5 all agreed it was a fantastic meal. Service was excellent and friendly and we loved the vibe and decor of the room. All of the apps and mains we tried were delicious but hands-down the winner of the night was the mushroom ravioli. It was outstanding -- I could have had a second helping, the flavor was addictive, it just melted in your mouth! We all can't wait to return!" [Menupages]

The Great News: Another Yelper claims that everything is on track to make the restaurant a huge success, "First Saturday night and already this place is on the ball! Service was great, and seating was prompt, even though two in our party of four were late because they went to the wrong restaurant. Doh. We started with the Sheeps' Milk Ricotta with sea salt and herbs, not to mention a healthy drizzle of grassy olive oil, which was amazing. As was the Gabagoul & Grana, which was a perfect balance of salty, sweet, and herbal flavors." [Yelp]

The Brief, Good News: @ruthreichl tweets that there are some good things happening and, apparently, we should have expected the potatoes to be one of them, "Dinner at Locanda Verde. Best dishes: fava bean crostini; fire-roasted shrimp; lamb amatriciania; chicken for 2. And, of course, potatoes." [Twitter/@RuthReichl]

--Matt Duckor

Locanda Verde

377 Greenwich Street, Manhattan, NY 10013 (212) 925-3797 Visit Website