NYCReview

photo credit: Kate Previte

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image
8.9

Best New Restaurants

2023

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant

ItalianAmerican

Nolita

$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersDate NightBirthdaysSpecial Occasions
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Major Food Group does pastiche. That sounds like an insult, and it sort of is—but if you can experience the old-school hospitality at Carbone and still leave disgruntled, or have dinner at The Grill without feeling like you just had your on-screen debut alongside Cary Grant, you’re lying to yourself. These people do the whole themed-restaurant thing better than anyone else. But for the first time, they’re trying something different. That something different is their best restaurant to date.

This Nolita spot isn’t a 1950s fantasy, red sauce extravaganza, or sceney French bistro with burgundy banquettes. Unlike its sister establishments, Torrisi Bar & Restaurant has no elaborate theme. The food is technically Italian, but that label feels awkward. (Sort of like calling a cronut French.) Drawing inspiration from all over NYC, Torrisi’s menu is fun, freewheeling, and full of inventive dishes that become even more impressive in the context of an extravagant space.

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image
Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image
Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

Torrisi is an expensive place where no expense is spared. It’s located a block from where the restaurant group began—at the now-closed Torrisi Italian Specialties—in a historic building with sky-high ceilings. The menus look and feel like elaborate wedding invitations, the servers wear cream-colored dinner jackets, and the open kitchen is lit like an intimate Broadway production. Ideally, you’ll be seated in a crushed velvet booth in the rear dining room (the VIP section, essentially), but even if you wind up at a stray table by the entrance, you’ll have an absorbing meal.

Every dish at Torrisi is executed with an obsessive perfectionism worthy of a breakup text, but there’s one obvious standout in each section of the menu. Among the antipasti, the unlikely winner is the fennel and grapefruit cocktail, which is light years more interesting than it sounds. You should also order the Italian and American hams. Listed under "specialties," the sprawling platter of donuts and cured meat will whisper your name outside your window at night.

If there are any specials on the menu—bao buns, say, or a Katz’s-inspired pastrami-spiced short rib—get those as well. And don’t ignore the rotisserie item. It might be a hunk of lamb that does an impeccable impression of prime rib, or it might be porchetta with skin that shatters like your hopes and dreams after Torrisi’s host quotes you a four-hour wait for a bar seat. Whatever it is, there will be limited quantities available. This restaurant is not above manufacturing hype. (It’s the Nolita way.)

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Like every other Major Food Group establishment, Torrisi is a production. It’s big, it’s hot, and every part of the experience feels workshopped and rehearsed. As a result, it can feel a bit like performance art for high-net-worth individuals—but for a restaurant group with a lease in Vegas and a name that sounds like a subsidiary of Monsanto, that’s to be expected. At least this time around, they’re doing something original. When your several-hundred-dollar check arrives with a gilded pen in a leather portfolio, you can pay with full confidence that you experienced something fun, unique, and even a little daring.

Food Rundown

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Italian And American Hams With Zeppole

You deserve to experience the magic of prosciutto paired with a warm zeppola. The combo seems so simple, but it’s one of the most compelling bites of food in the city. Wind a slice of ham around an airy donut, then take a moment to reflect on life while everything dissolves in your mouth.

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Fennel And Grapefruit Cocktail

It pains us to know that some people will see this dish on the menu and think “easy skip.” You may have had a fennel and grapefruit salad before, but you’ve never had one like this. Immaculate coins of fennel are arranged like a mosaic on top of grapefruit, goat cheese, and crunchy bits of Marcona almond. Don’t miss out.

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Chopped Liver With Manischewitz

Torrisi’s chicken liver mousse is luxe and creamy, topped with coarse flakes of salt and sweet Manschewitz jelly. You don’t have to order this, but no one will complain if it’s on your table. The crispy rye crackers are a very nice touch.

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

Duck Alla Mulberry

Dry-aged for two weeks and served with mulberry mostarda, Torrisi’s duck is crisp, fatty, and incredibly rich. It also comes with a bit of chard on the side, and that chard tastes like pure butter. Order this, but don’t try to eat it by yourself.

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Rotisserie Lamb With Flag Sauces

There’s always a rotisserie item on Torrisi’s menu, but it changes seasonally. The porchetta is great, and the lamb is even better. It’s juicy and rare, with a thick cap of fat that melts like butter. Think of it as a more charismatic version of prime rib, and be sure to make use of the three sauces that come on the side (especially the horseradish one).

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Spaghetti With Lamb Amatriciana

With so much else going on, it’s easy to forget that Torrisi serves pasta. Don’t get too carried away when it comes to this section of the menu, but don’t ignore it either. For something on the heartier side, try the thick, chewy spaghetti with big, fatty chunks of lamb guanciale.

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Raviolini With Prawns And Saffron

The first time we ate these delicate, prawn-packed raviolini, we immediately thought of wontons. (Torrisi is only a few blocks from Chinatown, and they’ve acknowledged the neighborhood’s influence on their menu.) You should absolutely order this dish—just keep in mind that you might become distracted thinking about all the nearby Cantonese food you could be eating.

Affogato

Every single time we come to Torrisi, we wind up getting the affogato—which is less of an affogato and more of a sundae. Served in a stemmed saucer, the dessert consists of gelato topped with fudge and coffee granita. It's big enough to split between a few people, and everyone at your table will say something like “Let’s get that dessert in the martini glass,” so you might as well just go for it.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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