Many who have read my reviews will realize how much I have mixed feelings about brunch and prefer to gauge a restaurant’s worth during dinner time. Brunch can often end up being a boring affair where you see the same dishes over and over again using eggs in unimaginative ways or throwing the same kale salads here and there. And yet, New Yorkers absolutely love weekend brunch, and I often get inquiries from friends who want to check out the next brunch destination in the city. Yes, there are some phenomenal places that don’t settle for typical egg and salad dishes. I somehow had more memorable dining experience at Cosme on a Sunday brunch than during dinner time, Lafayette will also have a soft spot in my heart, and I definitely want to check out places like The Clocktower and High Street on Hudson where I had enjoyed dinner before but have not yet been for brunch. Out of all these places, however, one spot always stands out to me for its remarkable level of consistency. Andrew Carmellini’s still-thriving Italian restaurant Locanda Verde has long been one of my favorites when it comes to soulful, no-nonsense Italian food, but it wasn’t until my recent visit how much I started to appreciate this place as a possible go-to brunch spot.
For chef Carmellini, simplicity has always been the virtue, and consistency and execution have always been the strong point. Such attributes also make the brunch at Locanda Verde a very pleasant affair. The signature sheep’s milk ricotta cheese with truffle honey and burnt orange toast will always be on my awesome appetizer list with its impeccable flavor. Shaved porchetta sandwich with grilled onions and provolone had surprisingly light touch that had none of the greasiness that you typically associate porchetta with, and the meat was pleasantly tender. Uova Modenese with cotechino hash, spinach and tomato Hollandaise, just like last time I had tried, had more hearty yet satisfying feel compared to other dishes.
While the pastas at chef Carmellini’s restaurants are known for their rustic touch, I actually liked the way the kitchen somewhat lightened them up for brunch, such as bucatini with rock shrimp, calamari and cherry tomatoes that emphasized the bright flavor of tomato, or the paccheri with milk-braised pork, fried rosemary and pecorino that wasn’t as meaty as I had expected but nevertheless had nice balance of flavor and texture. The best dish on my visit was to the kitchen’s take on shrimp and grits; the “scampi and grits” dish with organic polenta, tomato, sausage and sunny side eggs was phenomenal and I could seriously eat this every day for lunch! It had the complexity of flavor that is probably hard to match elsewhere and the textural effect from the combination of ingredients was just as memorable.
Locanda Verde has always had an amazing venue in Tribeca for its sleek décor that is even better during brunch time, especially in the summer where you can walk around the riverside nearby after a satisfying meal. Not surprisingly, it’s filled with a lot of young, handsome crowds (including couples that have little babies) looking to get their fix on brunch. Don’t skip on freshly squeezed juice or coffee to complement your meal. I haven’t had their brunch cocktails before, but the list at least seems pretty impressive on paper. Maybe I should start compiling a list of best brunch places in the city soon; at least Locanda Verde will be one of them.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 377 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013
Telephone: (212) 925-3797