Two years ago, chef Casey Lane read a story about Marcus Apicius, a gourmand who lived in Ancient Rome. “He was a socialite who loved everything about throwing parties, being on the scene, great cooking, and great wine,” he explains of the first century bon vivant who inspired him to open his West Village restaurant, Casa Apicii, last month. Housed on the garden level of a historic nineteenth century townhouse (which was formerly restauranteur John DeLucie's hotspot, The Lion), the restaurant draws its aesthetic inspiration from the punk rock era of the 1970s, outfitted with olive green and gold velvet chairs, and tobacco-stained leather banquets which line the main dining room walls. “It’s a little bit of rugged New York mixed with luxury,” says Lane, who suspended mod golden fixtures for a touch of mood lighting in the high-ceilinged space.
Keeping within the story’s culinary heritage, Casa Apicii serves seasonal, vegetable-heavy Italian fare, a menu Lane, who also owns The Tasting Kitchen in Los Angeles, developed with fellow chef, Adam Nadel (of New York’s famed eateries Lincoln and A Voce). Together, they have devised a mouth-watering menu, including imported mozzarella with housemade focaccia, and inventive sides like eggplant with honey and Calabrian chili, and sunchokes with spec. As for the main course? Choose one of their pastas, like the bucatini all’amatriciana, a traditional Roman dish, or Lane’s personal favorite, the linguine with clams.
Even if you don’t have time for a full dinner (or, more likely, can’t get a reservation), it’s worth stopping by for the bar scene alone, which is helmed by two leading mixologists – the co-founder of Employees Only, Dushan Zaric, and the former mixologist at Daniel, Fabio Raffaelli. Order the Bella Monica, a mix of homemade wild flower vermouth, ginger beer, and strawberries, or their signature cocktail, Casa Apicii, made with vodka, crème de peche de vigne, aloe liqueur, lemon and bitters. “We created Casa Apicii for everyone, we wanted it to be the new neighborhood place where locals can go right down the block and enjoy a four course meal,” says Lane. “Some place you can go on a Tuesday night for a great plate of pasta, a great Italian meal.” Buon appetito.
Calling Card The low-hanging plum awning at the end of the cozy, tree-lined street of West 9th.
Tribes Expect everyone from foodies to the downtown set, fashion crowd and lots of neighborhood locals.
Food and Drink Starters, $9 - $15, pastas $19-$24. Drinks start at $14.
The Basics Casa Appici, 62 West 9th Street, New York, NY 10011. Open 5:30pm to 11pm, Tuesday – Sunday.
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