There are a few things to keep in mind when you walk into Casa Apicii in the West Village. First of all, know that you are walking into a room that feels a bit different than some of the other Italian restaurants you're used to. This place sort of looks like a Bond Villain's cocktail club, or Vladimir Putin's country home, minus the weaponized mammoths. Second, prepare to spend more money than you might at another restaurant that serves elevated Italian food. This is a L'Artusi-like experience: pricey, but worthwhile if done correctly.
It's fair to assume that some of what makes Casa Apicii feel like an oligarch's crash pad was intentional, but also that some of it is simply a byproduct of the fact that the restaurant is located in an extravagant townhouse. The main dining room area is small, and surrounded by an upper level balcony, so that people can literally look down on you. There's also a fireplace with an imposing mantle - one that feels perfect for a painting like this. Those seem to be leftover features from the somewhat ridiculous restaurant that preceded this one, The Lion. But all the crushed velvet and gold trimmings? Pretty sure those were Casa Apicii design choices.
Whatever your feelings on opulence (I has it), once you get past the aesthetics, we think you'll find that Casa Apicii is a very good restaurant. The menu is familiar - pasta, burrata, crudo....some chicken, and the good stuff is really good. Even the bad things are pretty tasty, and there's an inventive touch to many of these Italian dishes that would otherwise be pretty straightforward. There's also a secret (?) bar upstairs where you can have drinks before or after dinner, and you definitely should.
Our only real complaint with Casa Apicii is that the menu is very large and navigating it can be tough. Much of it changes with the season, and there are like seven too many crudo options. That, and we're going to have to invest in some blazers if we're going to keep having dinner here.
An excellent bowl of creamy mozzarella, persimmon, and black olive shrapnel. Yes, that's the culinary term for it. Make sure this is on your table.
This is the pasta you want to be eating at Casa Apicii. It's pretty much a classic amatriciana, aside from the fact that instead of pork jowl, they use the spicy and mysterious spreadable salumi called 'nduja. WHY DOES IT START WITH AN APOSTROPHE?
Linguine and clams and everything else you want in your life.
Yes, one of our favorite things to eat here is a warm bowl of lentils. You know, to stay in touch with the common man. You should do the same.
A usual feature on the menu here, and for good reason. Mushtooms, pancetta, and sage never made anyone mad. Not once.
You could order this, if you're looking for a solid entree or are on one of those stupid diets where all you eat is cauliflower and bird protein. Or you could just have some more pasta. Your move.