Enlightenment sucks. If we had all been adults thirty years ago, nobody would be telling us to work out every day, or eat super foods, or meditate to solve our problems. We could deal with personal issues the old fashioned way, by burying them deep, deep inside and dousing them with whiskey. But not today. Now that humanity has gotten “so much smarter,” we live in a world in which people put almond milk in their coffee and push giant tires around for exercise. It’s so boring.
There is, however, one vice left that we refuse to relinquish, no matter how bad doctors or nutritionists or part time yoga instructors say it is for us: eating pasta. And there’s a new restaurant in the East Village where we can do exactly that, and do it well. Meet Fiaschetteria Pistoia.
Fiaschetteria Pistoia is a new restaurant from a group of people who own one other restaurant...in Tuscany. This is an exciting fact, because Tuscany is awesome. It’s also an exciting fact because they make traditional Italian pastas fresh every day. And so we at The Infatuation have found ourselves at Fiaschetteria Pistoia quite a bit lately, engaging in Holistic Carbohydrate Therapy. (Maybe if we call eating pasta by a different name, it will be OK to do it again.)
Now that you have some background, you probably have some questions. Is it really as good as that one little trattoria outside of Siena that I love? Is someone’s Nonna in the kitchen? How much pasta can I reasonably eat in one meal?
We’re not going to sit here and tell you that Fiaschetteria Pistoia is the second coming of that Bottega del Something place you stumbled into a few years ago on vacation in the Tuscan countryside. As a matter of fact, we’re not even going to tell you that it’s as good as the best rustic Italian restaurant in New York City. But we will say that if we were to rate Fiaschetteria Pistoia on the pasta alone, this restaurant would sit near the top of the stack in this town. When it comes to simple, authentic, near perfect classics like cacio e pepe or pappardelle al ragu, you’re gonna have a hard time finding better.
As for the overall experience, we find Fiaschetteria Pistoia to be pretty damn charming. The staff is incredibly friendly, the wine list is presented to you in the form of six or so bottles sitting in a milk bottle rack with tags around the necks listing price and varietal. It’s a pleasant place to spend some money eating well and imagining what it would be like to live a simpler life - one in which you work with your hands during the day and drink wine with your friends at night in some beautiful place that isn’t the corner of 11th Street and Avenue C.
Unfortunately, there are also some things about Fiaschetteria Pistoia that we don’t love. The food outside of the pasta is inconsistent at best. We’ve had mixed results when wandering off into the “secondi” section of the menu, and consistently bad experiences with most of the things that they list as daily specials. On one visit we found a dish called “Hammer Down Shrimp” on offer, which we quickly learned was not something delicious named after a Primus song, but a plate of raw shrimp that had been poorly cleaned, flattened, and barely seasoned. No thank you. We’ve also consistently been annoyed with the fact that the red wines are poured at somewhere around 86 degrees. I don’t know where they store the chianti, but it tastes like they’re keeping some of it in the oven. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t order wine here, but make sure to ask them to chill your bottle down a bit before you drink it.
So, to answer your question, no a trip to Fiaschetteria Pistoia is not a replacement for a trip to Italy. But it is a perfect spot for a laid back Tuesday night dinner. Just make sure to stick to the pastas - and bring your least enlightened friends.
A great way to start a meal at Fiaschetteria Pistoia. This artichoke salad is simple and tasty, and will provide some cover for the fact that you’re about to eat your metric body weight in noodles.
Cheese is a vegetable, right? Right. Eat your vegetables.
This simple spaghetti is a perfect example of when Fiaschetteria Pistoia is at its best. Order it.
Another must order. Who sees a cacio e pepe on a restaurant menu and doesn’t order it? Some asshole, that’s who.
Like eating pasta in Piedmont. That’s something you want to do.