A restaurant, like a human being, has its own energy field. Or perhaps you’d prefer to think of it as a ‘vibe’, which informs the dining experience. It’s no surprise that atmospherics play an important part, which is why restaurant design is such an integral component of the restaurateur’s tool kit. Of course it will never make up for substandard food or inadequate service, the defining characteristics of a restaurant, but the sense of place contributes immeasurably to setting the tone and establishing expectations.
The recently-opened Ristoro del Cinghiale holds such promise owing to its convivial, rustic Tuscan-style farmhouse decor, the fragrant warmth emanating from a wood-burning oven and fireplace, and because it’s the new eatery from Nicola Marzovilla, who also founded i Trulli, the 24-year-old Italian classic next door.
Whereas i Trulli represents the flavors of Puglia, Ristoro del Cinghiale is his homage to Tuscany. And let’s face it, aside from its renowned art, historic architecture and breathtaking natural landscapes, Tuscany has some serious, world-class food and superior wine going for it.
A stimulating start to the meal might be one of the six versions of the classic Italian cocktail offered from their clever “Negroni Program.” The one made with Japanese gin was as good as any I’ve had. Consider also jumpstarting your appetite with a variety of savory salumi, the luscious cured meats of Tuscany, or perhaps one of the crunchy grilled ciabatta crostini.
First course pastas are handmade daily by the proprietor’s mother, Nonna Dora. The pillowy gnocchi and the garganelli bolognese are both on point. When it comes to main courses, beef lovers can turn to the famed Bistecca Fiorentina, an exemplary porterhouse. However, when a restaurant names itself after an animal, eat that animal. In this case, the Rosticciana is a mixed grill of wild boar brilliantly infused with Tuscan herbs while perfumed by the wood smoke of the oven. Succulent pink loin meat, ribs that demand to be gnawed, and flavor-loaded crackling skin arrive with perfectly crisp, rosemary roast potatoes. It is a thing of beauty to behold and to eat. Braised greens and stewed beans are appropriate accompaniments that will not hurt you either.
The extensive Italian wine list features plenty of affordably priced bottles, and includes a number of superb Chianti Classicos from Mr. Marzovilla’s own family wineries in Tuscany. Leave a few sips in the glass to enjoy with a ripe Tuscan cheese as a pleasing way to end your meal.
Even if you can’t make it to Tuscany any time soon, but you long for a true taste of the region, it’s good to know you can find some of its finest culinary representations in the heart of New York City.
The meal that was the subject of this review was provided at no cost to the author.