Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- There was a 10-minute line just to get to Rosemary’s host last Thursday, a no-reservations restaurant where the prosecco flows from the tap like Miller Lite.
She told us a table was still 90-minutes away.
This is the slammed state of affairs at Carlos Suarez’s latest New York hotspot.
It’s not worth the wait, though the scenery’s impressive.
Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook Manhattan’s West Village. Rosemary’s has its own roof garden, which you can see for yourself when you get lost looking for the restroom. And the female-to-male ratio was so high that one might mistake Rosemary’s for an NYU sorority house.
You can’t blame a restaurant for being popular.
But who pays $80 these days for dry-aged strip steaks that have none of the flavor such aging should confer?
Thanks to its minifarm, Rosemary’s sends out good tomatoes and basil. They’re lovely alone, or served warm with mozzarella and focaccia. The mint is grown on the roof too; it makes your cavatelli with mushy peas taste as though it was flavored with toothpaste.
Unlike most popular walk-in spots, Rosemary’s won’t take your contact info after you’ve signed in, or give you a beeper so you can hunt down a decent drink and maybe relief from the noise, which is already starting to make your ears buzz.
A bartender ferries over a $5 ramekin of olives, too warm to enjoy, and $7 cheese sandwiches that taste like sales-meeting leftovers.
Rosemary’s wine list is admirable in theory. All bottles on the non-reserve list are $40; all glasses are $10. Poured into fat-lipped stems, jammy reds arrive at near-room temperature, while whites by the bottle get warm because your server fails to offer a chill bucket.
Chef Wade Moises, late of Babbo, is not without skills. His destination dish is octopus salami ($8), razor thin slices of the cephalopod gelled together into a cool, briny, maritime aspic. Tamer types will opt for soft cubes of tuna drenched in olive oil ($8).
No one, however, will enjoy the over-poached shrimp.
Pastas taste of boredom: Spaghetti al pomodoro ($12); linguini with preserved lemon both snooze. Orecchiette, with its starchy sauce and clean, salty sausage ($14) is much better.
Three mains, each meant to serve two, should be bypassed. The $70 carne misti is so-so poussin and pork ribs; if only the smoked lamb shoulder was a stand-alone entree. Acqua pazza ($55), a stew of orata, mussels, shrimp and squid, lacks the aromatic depth of flavor you might find in a good bouillabaisse. And the $80 strip steak, while expertly charred, has none of the heady mineral taste that you might encounter at Minetta Tavern or The Dutch.
The best entree is the $22 porchettina, a musky, medium-rare pork tenderloin wrapped in even muskier pancetta.
Plant lovers can order a very good $16 minestrone whose lack of acid is compensated for by the aromas of carrots, asparagus and radishes.
Skip dessert. Tiramisu, with no coffee flavor or rich mascarpone thump, tastes like a recipe cribbed from the back of a Reddi wip can.
Two bills might come when you ask for the check: One from the bar; one from the restaurant. If the European Union can unite the economies of an entire continent, Suarez can surely adopt a joint accounting system for his single, silly space.
The Bloomberg Questions
Price: Dishes range from $5 to $80.
Sound Level: Very loud, often over 80 decibels.
Date Place: Pick up place; no hard alcohol.
Inside Tip: Go late for no wait.
Special Feature: Champagnes start at $115 on reserve list.
Back on My Own Dime: Nope.
Rosemary’s is at 18 Greenwich Ave. Information: +1-212-647-1818; http://www.rosemarysnyc.com.
What the Stars Mean: **** Incomparable food, service, ambience. *** First-class of its kind. ** Good, reliable. * Fair. (No stars) Poor.
(Ryan Sutton writes about New York City restaurants for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and Warwick Thompson on opera.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at email@example.com.