Restaurant Spotting: Italienne
A name like Italienne (French for Italian) doesn’t exactly portend a red sauce menu of spaghetti and parmigiana. And indeed, the hot Flatiron newcomer represents a culinary meeting of the minds, between Northern Italy and Southern France — melding the former’s heart and soul with the latter’s elegance and refinement.
Which is reflected in the space as well as the food; a formal dining area proffers a four-course tasting progression, while the front room houses a rustic, neighborhood taverna, focused on small plates prepared using a wood grill and smoker. And both concepts are operated in tandem by owner Jared Sippel; once tagged to take over the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare Manhattan. Drawing on his time working at the Michelin starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence, as well as La Primula and La Subida in Friuli, Italy (lest we forget the James Beard award-winning Frasca in Colorado!), dishes are market-driven yet luxurious; approachable, but polished.
In the low-key osteria, a selection of stuzzichini (traditional bar bites, frequently served with aperitivi), include musky Duck Frittele, dabbed with apricot and sour cherry, as well as Panzerotto; crescent-shaped, Pugliese turnovers, lined with salty salumi and stringy scamorza cheese. There’s also a playful lineup of items meant for sharing; from the humorously billed Electric Goat (served with tangy accompaniments like chevre and chiles), to the Frogs Legs in Kataifi; a shredded phyllo cocoon, moistened with parsley butter.
The dining room is definitely a bit more staid (not to mention French) — with a $98 prix fixe divided into Beginnings, Grains from the Field, and The Land and Sea. Starters include updated riffs on warhorses, like Ris De Veau (Four Story Hill Farm sweetbreads and barigoule), while ensuing courses run the gamut from Trofie with “flavors of bouillabaisse,” to a Scallop and Lobster duo (with optional black truffle supplement), to 28-day dry aged Cote de Boeuf, with beet and horseradish for two.
But Sippel doesn’t stop there! Each Monday, he constructs a special menu showcasing a different European region as well. Take an upcoming ode to Liguria, which honors the rocky, verdant Italian coast with staples, like Panissa (chickpea porridge with taggiasca olives and garlic), Pansotti (herb-stuffed ravioli and salsa di noci) and Cima Ripinea — veal breast stuffed with mushrooms and pistachios — a taste of undiluted Italy at the Riveria-skirting Italienne.
19 W 24th St