Nicoletta is the black sheep of the Altamarea Group. Michael White, a chef that has given New York several great fine dining restaurants, opened a cheap East Village pizzeria that got panned by the critics, and the crowds that pack his other restaurants never quite materialized. It wouldn't be surprising to see White and Ahmass Fakahany close Nicoletta and turn it into another concept or a branch of Osteria Morini sometime in the next year — they've got the money, they've got the resources, and they've got a huge talent pool to draw from. Perhaps they're waiting on an expansion plan that hinges on having a New York flagship.
White and Fakahany have created a strong "brand" with Nicoletta: the napkins, pizza boxes, water glasses, and server uniforms are all emblazoned with the Nicoletta logo, and the dining room is filled with custom-made tables with spring-loaded pizza stands. It just feels like a restaurant that was designed to be replicated.
[Nicoletta at 9:45 on a Tuesday night in August]
Nicoletta means well. On a recent Tuesday night, Team Eater had excellent chicken wings, passable fritti, an okay pizza, and slam-dunk ice cream sundaes. The service was great and the tab was low, but the restaurant was as quiet as a tomb.
The question is not whether Nicoletta will close, but when. The safe bet is that Altamarea will revamp the restaurant once the D.C. outpost of Nicoletta is off the ground. After that, White and Fakahany might re-think this space and give the neighborhood something that it will really embrace.
· All Coverage of Nicoletta [~ENY~]