We were very excited about Bar Primi, mainly because Peels kind of sucked, and also because the Chef Andrew Carmellini that we dig the most is the Italian one. His steak tartare is cool, and his oyster sliders are OK, but it’s his pasta that we crave. We also like that Bar Primi is an approachable and easygoing place that you can generally get into. They don’t take reservations, but tables move quickly, and if there’s a wait, you can always go to The Bowery Hotel or The Wren for a drink nearby. Our overall experiences at Bar Primi have been great, as has most of the food - you just need to be careful as some items can be hit or miss.
On our first trip to Bar Primi, we aced the menu and thought this place was en route to a review in the mid 8′s. But on our subsequent trips, we didn’t have the same luck. Some of the pastas simply aren’t that good, and being that this place is all about the pasta, that’s a bummer. That being said, there are a few dishes - mainly the Bucatini with Slow Cooked Lamb and the Fiore di Carciofi - are completely out of this world. The daily specials are awesome, too, so make sure you order one of the large plates. The Thursday Night Lamb Chop. My God.
If you order right, an excellent meal at Bar Primi is most certainly attainable. Strategy not only comes into play when approaching the menu, but also when deciding when to come, who to come with, and where to sit. Come early to give you the best shot at a good table. Try to lock down one of the comfy round booths upstairs - those are the best seats in the house. And come with four or five friends, as Bar Primi is ideal with a group.
A really nice way to kick off the meal. The sweet, sautéed eggplant sits atop toasted bread with a base of goat yogurt. Get it.
The vegetables at Bar Primi are stellar, and our favorite of the appetizer options is this broccolini. The grilled asparagus with an egg is another one to consider.
We really enjoyed this light seafood salad with potatoes and spicy peppers in olive oil. It had nice flavors and textures going on, and we’d definitely order it again.
Our server pitched us hard on how this local arugula is the best arugula ever. We can’t really tell one arugula from another, but these were definitely some tasty greens.
The cheese-stuffed balls are making a lot of noise at Bar Primi, but we don’t get the hype. We found them to be a little mealy and way too dense.
Pastas are obviously the main attraction here. Some of them are incredible, while others leave much to be desired. The spaghetti with clams falls into the latter category. This is such a simple dish, but it just isn’t good here. Maybe next time don’t pile so many breadcrumbs on top that we could build a sandcastle.
Simple and perfect. The linguini is nicely al dente, and the garlic and breadcrumbs add great flavor in the proper ratios.
A near flawless bucatini. The slow-cooked lamb that accompanies it is insanely good, too - all kinds of rich, juicy, and meaty. A must order.
This was the worst pasta we tasted here. The pieces of octopus were way too big and way too tough. No thanks.
Excellent. Everything worked in sweet, sweet harmony. Order it.
For every hit, there’s a miss on the pasta menu. The clunky pappardelle was greasy, and the dish overall was one big pile of flavorless, oily mush. You can certainly do better.
Saving the best for last here. Holy sh*t is this artichoke pasta good. The artichoke is found inside a long, filled noodle topped with some pecorino and a smoked bacon marmalade. Incredible.
If you come on Thursday, which you should, order the chops. They’re pretty much perfect. We had the Friday night Seafood Stew as well, which was also really good.