photo credit: Rebecca Fondren
Saint Theo’s is a scene disguised as a culinary experience. That might sound harsh, but downtown Manhattan is full of such places, and, as far as cute, trendy restaurants go, this one’s far from the worst.
Inspired by the Italian coast and the city of Venice, this West Village spot has parquet floors and glossy mirrored columns, and it’s exactly the kind of place where you might run into an ex who recently left a job in finance for a different, similar job in finance. Unlike most sceney restaurants, Saint Theo's at least attempts to serve a menu that isn't 100% boring—but the results are often underwhelming. Mostly what you’ll find is slightly updated Italian food that seems like it had, at one point, intended to be exceptional, but gave up halfway and decided to have a spritz instead.
If you’d like to enjoy your Venetian fantasy in peace, stick to the highlights. Start with fried sardines (and be sure to douse them in lemon juice, as they can arrive a bit dry), try a few slivers of crudo, then split an order of the relatively cost-efficient butter chicken that comes with a small pile of crepes on the side. You’ll probably feel the urge to order a pasta as well, but we encourage you to fight that urge. There’s too much good pasta in this city, and the options here will only remind you of better versions you can get a few blocks away.
You might assume that an Italian restaurant that serves skippable pastas is, itself, skippable. And that’s a fair assumption. Like sister restaurant American Bar, this place exists to serve as the proper setting for your newest pair of pants, and you won’t lose sleep if you never eat a meal here. But if all you want to do is exist for a few moments in a beautiful room with throw pillows and white tablecloths, you could do a lot worse.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
Forget the chic design and sceney atmosphere. The best thing about Saint Theo’s is the complimentary bread. The bread is squishy and focaccia-esque, and it always comes accompanied by some kind of dip or condiment. In the past, we’ve received pleasantly tart and herbaceous pickles, as well as a ramekin stuffed with butter, olive oil, and apricot jam.
Mozzarella In Carozza
A Southern Italian dish similar to a grilled cheese sandwich, this mozzarella in carozza looks great on paper, but somehow disappoints. It doesn’t offer much you can’t get from a pack of frozen mozzarella sticks (which are, admittedly, good).
Certain dishes might not be on the menu when you stop by. If you see this salmon crudo, get it. It comes with big, meaty ribbons of salmon, chopped salty olives, and an abundance of deep-green olive oil.
This linguine with guanciale and preserved orange mostly just tastes like the buttered noodles you’d make for yourself half-asleep on a Wednesday. There’s an aggressive amount of butter involved, and the bits of guanciale awkwardly sink to the bottom of the dish.
We suspect (and this is pure speculation) that this is Saint Theo’s answer to Carbone’s spicy rigatoni vodka. The dish is minimalist—like that other pasta—but the one-note ricotta sauce will only hold your attention for so long. If your friends have been talking about this and you absolutely have to try it, get an order to split with one or two other people. You won’t be upset, but you might get bored.
Repeat after us: Always get the butter chicken. It’s big enough to split, and it tastes exactly like butter and chicken. You’ll even get some thin crepes on the side (similar to how Dirty French serves their chicken), which is a nice touch.
This double-patty burger isn’t perfect, but it’s slightly ambitious and seems promising if you squint (which is how we'd describe Saint Theo's in a nutshell). The pancetta and taleggio are both welcome additions, although they make every bite extremely salty.