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Good News/Bad News: Trattoria Cinque

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Krieger, 8/14/09

Tribeca: It's been just over two weeks since Russell Bellanca, owner of Alfredo's in Rock Center and son to the owner of the Roman original, opened Trattoria Cinque, a 250 seat monster with a lounge, two bars, two pdrs, and an expansive dining room in the shuttered Devin Tavern space. Early reviews have been piling in from those in Tribeca who need Italian cooked by someone who is not named Andrew Carmellini. So far, the results are a mixed bag. While most agree that the space manages to succeed, despite its massive size, and that the menu is priced right, there are a few concerns about the food. Time will tell if some of these early kinks will get ironed out. However, with a space this large, it would seem that there's very little room for error.

The Mixed News: NY Journal finds their meal to be a mixed bag, advising to stay away from any specials: "The owners of the Alfredo of Rome chain have done a nice job with the rehab, installing a handsome, long marble bar and comfortable faux-rustic seating. The restaurant was about 80% full by 8:00 p.m. on a Friday. Keeping it that way may be a challenge. We ordered far too much food, receiving no guidance from our young waiter. He then compounded the mistake by telling the kitchen to send out the pasta and both entrées simultaneously. A manager came over to apologize and then comped the entire meal...Penne with Italian Sausage was of the “I-could-make-this-at-home” variety, except that most home cooks would probably do it better. Veal had been pounded so thin that there was barely any flavor, and it was cold by the time we tasted it. An aged ribeye steak was wonderful, especially as it was just $25...Trattoria Cinque is certainly generous with portion sizes..." [NYJournal]

The Great News: A Yelper files an early rave, praising everything from the space to the service: "The space is large and beautifully set, although we opted to sit at the long bar. The bartender was very friendly, gracious and attentive. There were additional servers who informed us of the specials, took our order and brought us our food (the turnaround time was quick). The Ravioli Di Brasato (braised short rib stuffed pasta) was quite tasty. The diners next to us were raving about their thin crust pizza and wound up ordering the Ravioli Di brasato as well. It was Trattoria's opening week and things seemed to be running smoothly. I will definitely be going back." [Yelp]

The Downright Horrible News: Another Yelper, on the other hand, claims the restaurant can't seem to get a single thing right: "I was disappointed from the minute we walked in. We had a reservation, yet had to wait 20 minutes for a table in the loud main room when there were, quieter tables available...Our drinks took 10 minutes to arrive, my food (I do not recommend the spinach and ricotta dumplings) was lukewarm upon arrival. The menu is also VERY limited. No one came to offer us pepper or cheese with our meal - I had to track down a server. Our waitress did not come by as we were eating to see if we needed anything. And managers roamed around selectively in the dining room, only greeting and inquiring about the meal to certain specific guests; neither of them came by our table. Oh, and the bathroom area downstairs (if you can find it) smells awful. (This floor is also where the private party room is so I would not suggest that as an option either.) I won't be returning. [Yelp]

The Too Full For Dessert News: A lone Menupages user pens a satisfied review, paying special attention to the "addictive" pizza: "Our evening started with a warm welcome and ended with full, contented bellies all around. The space is great – large, rustic, bustling – the long bar is especially inviting. For three of us, we started with one order of Caesar salad and a pear + gorgonzola pizza. Both were winners, but the enormous, thin crusted pizza (easily big enough for 4) was completely addictive. We greedily polished it off. The mains were mostly tasty too: a very flavorful ricotta stuffed eggplant (on the small side), a fish soup, whose broth had much more flavor than the chunks of seafood, and a decadent lasagna Bolognese. But be warned the lasagna is more like an Italian mac + cheese than 'classic' lasagna. Even so, we didn’t waste a bite. It was that good. Needless to say, we were too full for dessert. Next time. [Menupages]

The "It's Just Like Italy" News: A Zagat member can't get enough of the place, though the fact that their dessert liquor runs on the honors system might have something to do with it: I went to Italy in Tribecca. Trattoria Cinque (FIVE in Italian) opened its door last week. The menu consisted of 5 apps, 5 entrees, 5 pastas, 5, well you get it. I had a full table so we were able to try everything and I have to say, 'None of us were disappointed.' At the end of the meal a bottle of Limoncello and Grappa are put in front of you with shot glasses. The waiter says, 'Just let me know how many you had.' I'm coming back." [Zagat]

The Twitterific News: @HouseofKooser had an amazing dinner there, @jakewheatley thinks it's the BOMB, and @girluninterrupt had an excellent Caesar salad, an underseasoned and dry halibut, and an excellent branzino. [Twitter]
—Matt Duckor

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