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Early Responders on the Wild World of Tribeca's Il Matto

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Horine, 6/24/10

Late last month, chef Matteo Boglione opened his large curious looking Italian restaurant in Tribeca, Il Matto (the Madman). What he's serving: unusual, savory-inspired cocktails and "sophisticated Italian fare with an eccentric twist." As expected, early responded have filed on the intriguing look of the decor. And somewhat surprisingly, a lot of people really like the food. To the early word:

The Bad News: After one look at the menu NY Journal is not impressed: "The bizarre menu is so busy with amateur artwork that it’s hard to find the food. Its offerings are overthought and overwrought. Examples include 'peanut roasted chicken over celery root purée and garlic chips,' and 'Tuna tartare, black olive tapenade, cannelini beans, avocado, and fried leeks.' For a place that invested so heavily in its bar, strangely there are no bar snacks...It was not crowded, but drinks were slow to come out. I paid up and headed out to dinner elsewhere. I am not tempted to return." [NYJ]

The Not Great: PX This notes that the place is weird, confusing, and that they wouldn't go back. But the food is sometimes bad, sometimes Ok: "Baby Artichoke Croquettes : Very good. Easily my favorite of all the dishes I tried. Tasty, aromatic, rich in flavor but delicate....Pork Belly with Head On Shrimp and Chickpea Puree : Sounds weird, right? And yeah, it kind of is. The shrimp is tender but slight too salty (and for a salt lover like me, that’s saying a lot). But the pork belly is eh. Is it boiled? The flavor isn’t awful, but the texture is? not so good...Tuna tartare : OK. Decent. Pretty to look at." [PXThis]

The Good News: Most Yelpers adores the place: "But the food. The food is incredible, as are the drinks. Unusual and well executed. The artichoke croquettes with fresh mozzarella and truffle oil were to die for and the fois gras stuffed filet mignon on white asparagus with veal reduction sono perfecto! I did also have the crostini for desert which I think wasn't to my taste (whipped gorgonzola confection with strawberry) but I appreciated the unusualness of it. What skews the menu away from the ordinary is the preponderence of salty inspired to go where salty usually doesn't go." [Yelp]

The It's Weird Looking News: The Tribeca Citizen won't comment on the opening night food, but they do explain what the place looks like: "he restaurant reminded me more of Soho in the ’80s, or what I imagine Soho in the ’80s must have been like, or maybe a Milanese dream of what Soho in the ’80s was like: white walls, black floor, street-art-ish paintings, servers in casual black (or maybe dark navy) and sneakers, a mammoth red-and-white light installation, tableware from MoMA’s design collection. The calm, rustic charms of Arqua are gone, replaced by a highly urban style like nothing else in Tribeca these days." [TC]

The Suspiciously Good News: Almost, perhaps, maybe a shill from the Eater comments: "just had the best and spukiest Italian food of my LIFE. And I'm from Italy. And I'm a food lover over the world. You better go there as fast as possible, once there might be a lane till Uptown." [Eater Comments]

Il Matto

281 Church St., New York, NY