At one point or another, you might have harbored some dream about living in the West Village. Wouldn't it be great? Waking up in a charming little townhouse apartment on a cobblestone street, waving hello to your celebrity neighbors' children and occasionally ending up in the background of their paparazzi photos? You'd whimsically end up buying a small dog one fall Sunday afternoon from that shop called "Le Petit Puppy." And of course, you'd be a regular at some under the radar, charming, low-key neighborhood restaurant.
Except, here's the thing: that studio apartment's "bathroom" is a cracked bathtub located next to the refrigerator. Your neighbor isn't actually the smiling offspring of the star of your favorite prestige TV drama, but actually an old man who watches those NY1 call-in shows with the door open all day. That pet store actually closed, probably because drunk people buying pets that come from puppy mills is a bad idea for everyone involved. And does that lively, dimly-lit, brick-walled restaurant on a pretty corner even exist?
Actually, it does. While that apartment full of natural light on Jane Street will probably have to remain a figment of your imagination, the charming neighborhood restaurant you envisioned is actually real, and it's called Malaparte.
Brick walls, wood floors, good pastas and salads, heavy pours of red wine, a generally pleasant crowd - they're all there at Malaparte. The food isn't revolutionary, but it doesn't need to be, and that's kind of the point. If you take a date here, they'll be impressed, but not because the restaurant is fancy or "impressive." They'll be impressed because you happened to know about this cute little restaurant on Bethune and Washington.
If you do go, know that you're not the only person who found this diamond in the rough - so expect a wait at peak times. You can use the time to pick up some cash, because they're a cash-only establishment. (Of course they are). If you're planning to be a group of four or more, they do take reservations, but only over the phone. (Again, of course. What do you think this is, Chelsea or Flatiron?).
By the way, the bathtub in your imaginary apartment is leaking. Into the old man's apartment.
You'll be happy with any of the salads to start here, but if you can't make a decision, we suggest the arugula with grapefruit and mint.
The pasta is really good here - chewy and hot, just like you're in Italy. Except near the Hudson River. When in doubt, go for the very fresh pesto.
Same great spaghetti, in a sauce that will make you feel slightly worse about yourself afterwards. Order with confidence.
The pizzas here are essentially round flatbreads, and we like this one with arugula and prosciutto. Order one for the table.
That's a fancy way of saying, a grilled piece of whole fish. Those eyes are staring at you saying, "Good choice of restaurant."
That's a fancy way of saying Cornish Hen, which is a fancy way of saying chicken. Another strong order.