Its not everyday you get to eat at a restaurant that has been in business for over 100years! Not only that, Barbetta's been in the same family for that entire time as well. One taste of the food here and you will see why this establishment has been thriving for so long. My wife and I decided to eat here for our first time on a recommendation from my mother who had discovered it last she was in New York City. This unique restaurant is nestled in amongst a very diverse area full of restaurants and businesses but to be honest, I doubt the average tourist or even a local would run across this gem and realize it on first sight. From the outside the entrance is somewhat simple but elegant in its simplicity. The inside is laden with fine craftsmanship and exquisite decor. Amid alleys of packed restaurants you will find Barbetta's to be a like secluded hideaway from the bustling city surrounding you.
Each table is set with a lamp and the normal dining flatware, The waitstaff wear tuxedos, have Italian accents, and are a true delight. The interior is really quite picturesque, its easy to forget you are even in NYC anymore. Its impressively quiet and calm, the restaurant is spacious and the more you look at the details you see craftsmanship that really is not placed into establishments these days. My wife ordered the Risotto Alla Piemontese, which they made vegetarian at her request! It was actually her first time to experience risotto, and well lets just say she has been hooked on it ever since. The risotto was really flavorful, and as you can see in the picture it wasn't dry, a common mistake made by many restaurants and home cooks. Barbetta's risotto had plenty of liquid, giving it the perfect texture. No doubt it was made fresh and by an experienced chef. This risotto has been served at the restaurant since they opened in 1906 and we understand why its still a favorite today.
I ordered the Bue Al Barolo, 'the tenderest of beef braised in red wine with polenta, loose and crisp'. This dish has been served at the restaurant since 1962. Now, I admit I do have some sort of weak spot for food cooked with wine, but this was a truly exceptional dish. The flavors were dynamic and spot on. No one flavor was over-powering and the combination with the polenta really produced a nice balance for the dish as a whole. The beef was incredibly tender, not overcooked, and the wine selection was strong and complex but not overbearing.
If you happen to look Barbetta's up online it averages 4 of 5 stars; naturally experiences differ from person to person, but my wife and I would give this a 5 star rating. Barbetta's is a truly unique dining experience. We loved the atmosphere, the waitstaff, the food, and the history. This is a restaurant we visit each time we are in NYC, it holds special memories for us and is our little intimate get away in a city full of overcrowded restaurants.