Alma 33 is located at 33 West 8 Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.
They are open for dinner and late night on Sun-Tues from 5:30 PM – 1 AM, Wed-Sat from 5:30 PM – 2 AM, and for brunch Sat/Sun from 10 AM – 4 PM.
Lunch is coming soon. For more information, call 212-380-8794 or visit www.almanyc33.com.
Exterior and Interior Photos: Zandy Mangold
Diverse Culture Comes to Life at Alma 33
What a joy to discover a fresh, affordable and fabulous restaurant such as Alma 33. Not only does it feel far more upscale than prices would suggest, but management, from reception at the door to waitstaff and bus-persons are incredibly nice. Kudos to co-owner Jessica Cohen, whose charm and interaction adds a personal touch.
You know something is special when your table receives a bottle of filtered water (filtered 5 times as a matter of fact) gratis. (A recent visit to a 4 star restaurant offered the same but at a hefty charge). When it comes to food, you won’t be disappointed.
If a generous serving of Entraña—Argentinean grilled skirt steak, served with an assertive kiss of rosemary smoke under an ultra-chic glass dome—with a bold glass of Malbec doesn’t sound like an accessibly-priced meal, meet the dynamic, handsome young talent and recent Italian transplant, Enrico Primarti who mans Alma’s stoves, Having spent time at Falai and the East Side Social Club since moving from Florence. His energy and passionare is immediately apparent. His style is pure, modern and not overly fussy. Chef Primarti respects fresh, quality ingredients and flavor is always the star.
The other force at work is Richard Lusardi, a New Yorker of Argentinean descent, is bridging his deep understanding of the restaurant industry—he’s spent years on the managing teams at such big names as Craft, The Beacon, and Windows on the World—with his equally extensive experience as a consumer. The result? A budget-friendly experience that doesn’t skimp on quality, innovation, or fun.
Both Richard and chef Enrico laugh about the all-too-common migration of Italians to Argentina. It’s with this in mind that they’ve devised a menu that is more inspired from the South American country and its myriad cultural influences than paying strict authentic tribute to it. And though they don’t share native tongues, Primarti and Lusardi speak about their craft with a mutual sense of soul—hence the name, Alma. (which means “soul” in Spanish).
Meet Alma 33, the new West Village eatery that’s serving Argentinean-inspired dishes with a heaping side of value-consciousness. (Below)
The dining room—which housed former favorite Elettaria and was once one of Jimi Hendrix’s favorite places to jam—is recessed behind a vibrant bar area, with wide street exposures that offer views towards Washington Square Park and allow a sultry lighting to enter the space once the sun has set. Inside, restored barnwood beams from upstate New York adorn the ceiling and add instant warmth, while natural colors and fabrics in bronze, amber and gold add comforting touches, such as comfortable booths and tables and rustic burlap drapes. And unlike many other restaurants, the distinct dining room and bar spaces represent two completely unique experiences. The goal, says Lusardi, is to offer value and variety—a combo that he knows has won him over as a customer before and that he knows too few others offer in the city’s current restaurant scene.
Picadas, or appetizer-style Argentinean treats, are the name of the game in the bar area, where an ample list of highly affordable by-the-glass wines can compliment such delicacies as polenta lollipops with fontina fonduta. Here, perfect rounds of fried polenta—each playfully skewered onto a lollipop stick—come served with a dipping sauce of oozing fontina cheese, a play between the airy rounds and indulgent formaggio. A portion of sardinas is ideal to share, with freshly seared sardines and goat cheese layered onto Argentinean miga bread. It’s all drizzled with a pistachio and basil pesto, whose vegetal and earthy notes add depth and balances the sardine’s assertive taste for extra refinement. Even if you are not a sardine fan, you will adore these babies.
Skirt steak skewers with chimichurri fulfill any typical Argentinean craving, but the Hojaldre offers a twist on the expected. Here, a lesser-known regional specialty that resembles the Italian gnocco pairs a typical Argentinean riff of puff pastry with mascarpone cream, jamon Serrano, and a balsamic glaze. Other wonders include crunchy sweetbreads with fennel puree and oranges and delicious empanadas filled with red wine-braised short ribs and green olives or slow roasted chicken, bechamel, green peas and corn . We also adored the unusual mini sweet and hot peppers filled with pork, beef and herbs. For foodies, the appetizer star may be Tartara De Salmon salmon tartar with avocado, green apple and shaved fennel , which arrives under a glass dome, which when lifted, releases the subtle aroma of the house-smoked salmon. Superb!
Do as the Argentineans do and pair these picadas with a selection of international beers—five on tap and more than 15 by the bottle from South America to Spain and beyond. It’s a perfect pairing, whether enjoyed among large parties at high tables, a few friends in front of the sweeping windows watching passersby, or in any of the intimate nooks and crannies scattered throughout the restaurant’s front area.
For the signature Entraña—Argentina’s most well known dish, here seared on the grill and then smoked with the essences of apple wood and rosemary—take a seat in the main dining room. There, a menu of composed pastas and entrees is available, representing some Argentinean classics and many more innovative twists on the country’s flavors.
For one such adventure, try the Ravioles Morcilla, described by chef Primarti as “Argentinean ingredients inside an Italian folder.” The pasta shells are stuffed with a combo of morcilla (Argentina’s take on boudin noir) and goat cheese, making for a more delicate introduction into the bold flavors the sausage presents. Risotta alla Parmigiana, also, works with the country’s bounty, offering thin ribbons of tender malbec-braised short ribs atop a classic risotto. A surprise twist: reggianito and a finish of mascarpone add crunch and richness for a harmonious marriage of Italian and Argentinean tastes.
After a few pastas, it’s natural to turn your attention to the heartier entrees. The Parrillada offers an obligatory opportunity to indulge the inner carnivore, with a variety of grilled cuts—Entraña, Sweetbreads, Morcilla and Chorizo—to share between two.
For something a little lighter, the Ostiones (Pictured Above) are an inventive creation consisting of pan seared shrimp-crusted scallops that are set atop a delicate celeriac puree and drizzled with white truffle oil. There’s no greater temptation than to supplement any of these entrees with Alma’s sides—specifically, the Chauchas (sautéed haricot vert with garlic, almonds and raisins) and Papas Ala Provenzal (home-cut fries with a parsley and garlic gremolada).
In addition to a generous wine list with ample choices, red and white, at unbeatably accessible prices,(from $7 to $8, and each glass is available by the bottle). Alma 33 also offers an impressive selection of house-made cocktails designed by Lusardi himself. Inspired from his own days behind the bar, they include the Manquito—Tanqueray Gin, fresh lemon juice, Cassis as a splash of soda—and Las Uvas de la Ira, with muddled grapes and raw sugar as the sweet stars paired with Bushmills, apple juice and lime.
For dessert, a rotating menu of specials offers numerous must-try options. Argentinean classics that Lusardi sourced from his childhood memories and family recipes include Panqueques de Dulce de Leche—flambeed crepes stuffed with the country’s caramel-like signature sweet—and a sponge-cake like treat called Pionono. Each pairs swiftly with a cup of fabulous coffee or shot of espresso, and in true Latin American style, Alma 33 has enlisted only the best—though many of New York’s top kitchens share their choice of Queens-based roaster Dallis Coffee, Alma is rare in employing their most high-end, Brazilian farmed Octavio Coffee line. Only have room for one sweet treat? Don’t miss the saffron panna cotta, a deeply fragrant custard that bears ample evidence of the kitchen’s attention towards sourcing the best ingredients, topped with a house-made mango chutney and dulce de leche drizzle.
The Attractive Bar Room Below
Alma 33, with its $8 appetizers and $15 entrees, puts so many expensive cookie-cutter restaurants to shame that it would be a real shame to not make a reservation ASAP. Alma 33 . . What’s Not To Like?
Copyright 2011 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved .