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Cappellitti dressed with Parm on a pottery bowl.
Cappelletti at Foul Witch.
Erik Kantor/Foul Witch

This Restaurant From Roberta’s Is Seriously Weird

You won’t even miss their pizza

Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

Welcome to Scene Report, a column in which Eater captures the vibe of a notable New York restaurant at a specific moment in time. You can read other scene reports here, here, and here.

After years of hinting that a wine bar concept was coming, Roberta’s co-owners, Carlo Mirarchi and Brandon Hoy, have finally delivered. Foul Witch opened in the East Village (15 Avenue A, near Houston Street) in January, describing itself as a “magical” and “spooky Italian” restaurant and wine bar. What does that mean?

Eater’s critic Robert Sietsema visited shortly after it opened; I followed up to see how things are shaking out. On a recent visit, I kept thinking of the High Priestess tarot card, who has extremely witchy vibes. She symbolizes subconscious knowledge, hidden mysteries, the weirdness that exists outside of the mainstream world. Foul Witch feels like it’s tapping into that energy, serving modern Italian with discordant notes that zap you out of comfort. Just like Roberta’s opened the door to many New Yorkers experiencing at-the-time unexpected flavors like honey on pizza or duck prosciutto, Foul Witch wants to pop the bubble of comforting, rustic Italian food enclosing the city. It’s ready to get weird — in a good way.

The oven at Foul Witch
Inside the dark dining room at Foul Witch.
The interior of Foul Witch.
Erik Kantar/Foul Witch

The vibe: Foul Witch is flanked by empty storefronts on the southernmost block of Avenue A, a skinny facade that opens into a cozy, candlelit dining room with high ceilings, exposed brick, and a very Lo-Fi Beats To Study To soundtrack. (There’s no witchy-themed decor.) At 7 p.m. on a weeknight it was quiet, but an hour later, the front was filled with dates and double-dates, enjoying the surprisingly comfortable chairs, a true blessing in this day and age of metal monstrosities. Toward the back, there’s the well-lit open kitchen, where from the bar, you can watch the wood-burning oven in action, and things are a little livelier. It’s refined, but with artfully mismatched silverware, and servers ready to chat with you about wine or gush over desserts, it’s warm and familiar.

What to drink: Like Roberta’s and Blanca, the focus is on funky natural wines, like a Verdicchio pet-nat from Italy, and selections from Georgia and Croatia, along with a nice list of beers and nonalcoholic options. And while there are a lot of by-the-glass options, it’s clear the energy is on the bottle list. Take note: There’s very little under $100.

On the menu: The food is seasonal and ever-changing, with your standard meant-to-be-shared trajectory. Meals begin with a plate of baguette and focaccia with a sourdough tang straight from the oven, served with a smear of cultured butter — amazingly free after Roberta’s and Blanca were early pioneers of paying for the bread plate. But then the menu becomes playfully challenging. There’s testa and coppa. There’s a dish of hot fruit — on my visit it was Thomcord grapes draped in translucent sheets of lardo, for an unconventional sweet and gamey bite. Mackerel in labneh and watercress, with a hint of horseradish, evoked the neighborhood’s nearby appetizing mecca, Russ & Daughters. And a dish of celery “alla Romana,” (i.e., puntarelle) cut into curly noodles and dressed in pecorino and so much anchovy, was like a Caesar stripped of all its milder accompaniments.

A bowl of beans.
White beans at Foul Witch.
Erik Kantar/Foul Witch

A chittara with Dungeness crab and fennel felt perfectly at home in New York’s pasta scene, and roasted goat shoulder with buttered turnips and allium was a beautiful riff on skirt steak and chimichurri. But desserts skew herbal, with things like bay leaf ice cream and sungold sorbet, the sweetest option being a sake pound cake with clotted cream and fresh honeycomb. So, if “not too sweet” is your highest compliment, you’ll be good.

Meat-lovers only: While servers, of course, asked if there were any dietary restrictions at the table, there are precious few options for vegetarians and vegans — a pasta or two and some small plates, but none of the larger offerings. Though that’s perhaps not a surprise for a place run by folks who were a big part of the charcuterie revival.

A plate of ham.
Charcuterie at Foul Witch.
Erik Kantar/Foul Witch

Why go: This is where you go when you’re ready for strong, funky flavors, when you and your most food-obsessed friend want to be lightly challenged, or at least depart from the world of burrata and cacio e pepe. It’s the kind of place you’ll go “huh!” at the first bite of every dish, before gladly devouring the rest. And, to no surprise, you’ll be thinking about the bread for days to come.

The outside of Foul Witch
The entrance to Foul Witch
Erik Kantor/Foul Witch
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