Last night, Jason and I went to a good friend’s home in the West Village. The home itself is full of history and is currently under a complete renovation, so we got a full tour of the space, and shared in some wine, cheese, and conversation. We had a great time. However, Jason and I shamefully have to admit to having superhuman eating capacity. So before heading home from Manhattan, we decided to grab a “snack” from Da Silvano restaurant, just down the block.
First, here was the beautiful spread of specialty cheeses and homemade hummus – what certainly would satisfy a normal pair of humans. I can’t write much about the cheeses because I didn’t buy them, but can definitely say that they were delicious.
On to the meal… walking to our car we agreed that we should get a small bite somewhere, and I (as usual) was in the mood for pasta. Jason told me “Da Silvano is supposed to be great,” as we approached it so we headed in. I love an old Italian guy with a thick Italian accent; who doesn’t? Silvano Marchetti was there (in flamboyant coral colored pants), playing that role to a tee. He checked on the few tables that were filled (it was about 10:00 on a Monday night), and seemed genuinely concerned for his business. But the rest of the staff’s demeanor seemed to be more of a show to me than authentic. They were a little pushy and a little over the top. Maybe those are truly qualities of authentic Italian culture, but it felt forced.
Our small bite accidentally turned into two appetizers and two pastas. Oops.
For appetizers, we went with the pig’s foot and razor clams, and these were the major failings of the meal. To be fair, I have never eaten a pig’s foot before so I have absolutely no reference point. Maybe I just don’t like the dish, and it had nothing to do with the preparation. But I found it utterly disgusting. It wasn’t the joints and bones of the foot that grossed me out; I had expected those. But it was a gelatenous mound of fat with toasted breadcrumbs on top. Not even one meaty bite. I love lardons, and I love pork belly, but this was just jiggly and repulsive.
The razor clams were even more disappointing because I have had them prepared well in the past, so there was a clear reference point. First of all, in reading up on “how to prepare a razor clam,” I consistently found the basic tips to, “remove anything that isn’t white,” and to “cut out the intestinal track.” Da Silvano’s restaurant failed to do this with any of the clams. Each beautiful sliver of clam meat came with a long black full sliver of… intestine? Ew. Aside from that, the amount of grit in each bite was embarrassing. I almost broke my tooth on a chunk of it, and found myself pulling little inedible bits of sand and shell from my mouth after each bite. That’s just amateur and wrong.
The meal did improve with the entrees. The gnocchi with lobster was good. The gnocchi itself was extremely light and pillowy and cooked perfectly. We found the lobster sauce to be a little bit underwhelming, but a giant improvement from clam poop chutes, so we were happy. The Taglialini Contadina (hot and sweet sausage, peas, and cream in a light tomato sauce) was the best part of the meal. The fennel flavor in the sauce was great, and the pasta itself was cooked excellently.
For possibly the first time ever, we skipped drinks with our meal and skipped dessert… it was already after 11:00 by the time we finished our pastas.
Unfortunately, Da Silvano Restaurant earned a sad two star Baconboozer rating. While the pastas were good, the pig foot preparation was questionable and the improper cleaning of the razor clam was a major mistake that I really can’t get past. Part of me wonders if they were just rushing to finish their dinner service, as we were the last people to come in for the night. Whether they were rushing or this was their standard preparation, it is inexcusable to me. Silvano, I strongly encourage you to pay more attention to the details of your dishes; your reputation will only carry you for so long before people start to change their opinions.