In a world where chefs are trademarking their signature dishes and ingredients are altered from liquids to solids and solids to foams, it is refreshing to find a restaurant where simplicity rules. That is what you'll find at Via Carota (51 Grove St., 212-255-1962), the new West Village restaurant by Rita Sodi (of I Sodi) and Jody Williams (of Buvette): just deeply satisfying Italian food with nary a garnish or a flourish to be seen.
The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but you'll most likely land a table if you come early enough in the evening. If there's a wait, grab a drink by the bar under dim industrial lighting, where they serve two Negroni cocktails, a variety of Italian wines, beer and cider.
The menu is fairly straightforward, but here's a roadmap. Once you're seated, start with the stracchino e pomodorini crostini. The warm cheese is spread across oiled toast and topped with slick sun-dried tomatoes that are puckeringly tart. Then go for a plate of salumi or move right on to the many vegetables. The pickled beets are bright pink and topped with a crumble of goat's milk feta, while the cavolo nero comes as a heaping pile of rich black kale and pork sausage. You can't go wrong with the cheesy cauliflower gratin or the light cabbage salad with faro either. For pasta, the lemon risotto is vibrant, while a simple pumpkin puree fills delicate tortelli.
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City.