Italian-American cuisine is in-style, and this hot spot is bringing locals back to Mulberry, a street otherwise flanked by mediocre, touristy Italian restaurants. Run by chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi (both of whom have logged time in the kitchens of some of the city's most lauded Italian eateries), this 25-seat restaurant isn't easy to get in to so reserve ahead. The $100 seven-course prixe fixe is available at lunch (Fri.–Sun. only) and dinner. The menu changes regularly and it's hard to know what you're going to get until you sit down–from Jamaican jerk oxtail to a crunchy pork chop or spaghetti with clams. For a simpler meal, head next door to Torrisi spinoff, Parm, which serves great Italian-accented sandwiches.
Mar 14, 2013
My spouse and I dined at NoLita’s Torrisi Italian specialties in mid-December 2012. Securing a reservation for the 20-course $160 per person chef's tasting menu at Torrisi proved challenging; for months, we called every Monday morning at 9:00 am, only to be told that the spaces for the Saturday evening chef's tasting menu were full, but that they could offer us either a regular table or the chef's tasting menu on another night of the week. (Because
we do not live in Manhattan, logistically, we could only dine there on a Saturday night.) We are sure the reservationist was as happy as we were when we finally scored a reservation - she was probably tired of answering our call every Monday, inquiring about availability, and then asking for our name to be placed on the waiting list. Securing a reservation for their regular 7-course $75 per person menu is not as difficult, and can even be done via their website (or of course, by telephoning). The regular menu is listed on a chalkboard wall in the dining room (you choose from among four appetizers, two pastas, two entrees, and two desserts). We are not sure that they also provide a printed menu, because we did not order from the regular menu; there was no printed or verbal menu for the chef’s tasting, so each course was blind (although they sent us home with a list of the courses that we ate that night). Much has been written about the chef’s tasting, however, so if you do a little research beforehand, you can get an idea about some of the dishes. Torrisi serves dinner daily, as well as lunch on the weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). They serve wine by the bottle, half-bottle, and glass, as well as beer. Unfortunately, after my spouse drank one beer and order another, the server informed us that they had no more of that particular kind, and that he would have to choose an alternative, which was a bit of a disappointment for a restaurant of this level on the busiest night of the week. The restaurant space is small but rustically attractive, with exposed brick walls lined with shelves housing Italian products, with an antique-looking furniture piece dominating the center of the room that works as a serving station. There is no bar area or waiting area at the restaurant, so do not arrive early. There is only one restroom for all the diners and staff, so you may have to wait. Expect to be seated very close to other parties. Prior to our dining there, we read reports that said that the restaurant had been slightly modified/enlarged to add an additional 4 seats at the former lunch counter. The diners who are partaking in the chef's tasting menu are seated amongst the regular diners; they are not segregated at one table or in one area of the restaurant. We will not go into great detail about the food, since the menu could change, and also because so much has been written about the various courses already, but everything was tasty and uniquely presented. Our favorites courses were the “olives”, the “cigar”, the steak tartare and foie gras, oyster and scallop, caviar, ricotta gnocchi (one of the few dishes that is also on the regular menu), the cheese danish cheese course, cherry float, and the incredible cookie plate. We enjoyed using the plates from Delmonico’s and the Tiffany silver. After paying our bill, we were presented with a menu and a take-home box containing a few more cookies. As we were dining, we could not help but think that the restaurant should offer more spots for diners who want the chef's tasting menu - it seems like they could sell every seat every night at $160 (or at least on weekend nights). We would certainly return!