Kitchenetta is now open for lunch.
A small place with a forced valet that's usually crowded for dinner, it was nice to have a chance to go there at lunch time. jump-->Nobody knows they're open for lunch yet; they used to be open for lunch before I moved into town, but not for long while.
When I checked out the menu, however, I was kind of disappointed. A lot of $15 paninis and $15 pizzas and $13 salads. They have a small but classic dinner menu and I really wanted something better than a panini or a pizza. This is a very weak lunch menu.
They also don't have unsweetened iced tea; $4 for hot tea or sweetened iced tea. $8 for sparkling water. I have a friend who loves the place but won't come here because of the prices.
I walked into an empty restaurant at 2pm; there were a couple of people at the bar who seemed to be staff. There's no privacy inside, so I opted for a table outside.
I decided I wanted an entree, so I reluctantly ordered the maccheroni ragu toscano, which is described as "twice cooked pork ragu, tomato sauce, carrots & celery"; I also ordered a side of wood charred escarole, which purportedly is in garlic and EVOO.
The Iced Tea came out with the thinest strip of lemon I've ever seen; $4 for this.
It was what they call "slightly sweet"; it was actually quite good, with a touch of pomegranate flavor. >
The atmosphere is very strange; aside from the stainless steel furniture, the music is retro odd, with "Lady Sunday" and "Lo Canto" mixed in with Stevie Wonder.
The Escarole and the Maccheroni came out together.
The escarole looked about what I expected. It was bitter but not very garlicky. Also not much oil, if any. A fairly pedestrian version. Eh.
The pasta was soupier than I expected.
Kitchenetta Toscana Ragu
My server asked if I wanted "freshly" grated cheese, and I asked if they had Romano. She said "Yes" but then came back with a dish of sawdust which tasted more like sawdust parmesan than Romano. It served no purpose.
There are no condiments here; no olive oil or salt and pepper on the table; no sweeteners.
The pasta wasn't bad, but it wasn't that good either. Too bland; it tasted like chicken in a bland tomato sauce. It's a good portion for $14; Noodles Panini would charge you $22 for this. But it wasn't good enough to really gain my interest.
Expectations can ruin everything. This is one of those places that charges top dollar for a bare bones "meal"; no bread or soup or even olive oil on the table; so I really expected something special. Maybe dinner is better, but this experience was underwhelming considering the $26 price tag.
By Michael M
Ahhh...Kitchenetta...I love you like a drunken uncle. This place can be very fun and very good, but you're never quite sure when it may blow up in your face or spiral and sputter into bizarre behavior. It's unpredictable, so not the best place to go for a sure-thing dining experience. However, the food can be crazy good.
I'll never forget my first experience there. This happened several years ago and is absolutely true. Lunch on the patio (I don't think they serve lunch anymore) - glass of some type of white wine (vermentino or something), bowl of linguine vongole. Bliss. The owner, who seems like a good enough guy, is straight out of central casting. Big personality, very kinetic, snazzy dresser. Anywho, during our lunch, he steps out on the patio and lights up a cigar. Unlike a lot of people, a cigar or cigarette doesn't bother me while eating. I don't smoke, but unless they're blowing it in my face, I really don't care if others do. Another discussion. In any case, the owner is enjoying the day, puffing on a Cohiba (or whatever) and decides "hey, you know what sounds good?" "I'm going to chainsaw that tree stump over there." No kidding. Armani threads, big fat cigar dangling from his mouth, a number of obviously occupied tables outside with his guests, and he pulls a chainsaw from out of who knows where, cranks the thing up to deafening and starts going to work. My wife and I had to pinch ourselves. We didn't know whether to be pissed or delighted.
Anyway, I've probably been a half a dozen times over the last couple of years, always arrive slightly anxious, typically leave happy and have managed to learn a few tricks along the way. There is a formula for ordering. Portions are Oprah-sized, so be strategic.
Do not make the mistake of ordering a traditional, individual, two or three-course meal. There were three of us on the last two visits and, as we don't do desserts, we split an (one) appetizer, an order of pasta and a couple of non-pasta entrees.
On one occasion the appetizer was a 1lb wood-grilled octopus served in OV and garlic with hot peppers. My type of wonderful. We followed with a small mountain of rigatoni with a veal shank/pork red sauce and ice-cream scoop of ricotta on top. Finished with short ribs (which were more like little individual chops) with hot peppers and a very good zuppa di pesce. Fantastic meal.
We are big eaters and left painfully full, but have mistakenly ordered even more food in the past, which was just gross in its gratuitousness.
Our last trip included an antipasto special with some buffalo mozzarella, cerignola olives, sopressata, house roasted peppers, etc...very good but didn't necessarily send me. Followed with a good, but almost overly oily seafood linguine and a dry, uninspired veal Milanese with a haystack of fresh arugula with reggiano, which was great. As I mentioned, there were three of us and, this case, the three plates were fine. Less impressed with this most recent meal, but was a bit of an aberration compared to previous trips.
OK, other details you need to be aware of:
IT'S LOUD. If you're reading this, you now know, so don't be surprised. Just roll with it. If you can't do loud, best to avoid Kitchenetta.
The servers can be up and down. Our last waiter was a fantastically bombastic kid from Queens who was very charming and helpful. We've also seen the other face of NYC in their wait staff - impatient and overly aggressive.
Wine list is good, largely Italian.
If you're going on a weekend in-season, don't even bother trying to pull into the restaurant parking lot (valet), it will set the wrong tone for your entire evening. Their parking lot is extremely small and the valets are forced to treat it like a game of Tetrus - cars are packed 6 deep. Do yourself a favor - drive past the restaurant entrance. There are two empty furniture store-parking lots adjacent to the restaurant on the northeastern side that are easy and free and a 30 second walk from the restaurant.