By 9pm on a Friday pre-Christmas night, as other restaurants begged for customers, the line for tables had formed at Macelleria, the aptly-described “rustic Italian steakhouse” in the heart of the Meatpacking district. Unlike at some of the red-hot area’s new denizens, the vibe at Macelleria is decidedly unpretentious, even convivial, explaining its popularity with twosomes out for a romantic meal or large, boisterous all-male parties celebrating who knows what. The relaxed atmosphere is only part of the equation. Macelleria – which is the Italian word for butcher shop – wisely offers a range of culinary options at price points ranging from the remarkably gentle to slightly splurgeworthy. And no matter what you opt for, portions are decidedly generous. Take, for example, our sprightly salad of nicely dressed arugula topped with a hefty helping of sliced pecorino cheese and accompanied by what appeared to be an entire sliced pair. A sextet of large ravioli with a nicely balanced pumpkin filling and bathed in an enticing brown butter-and-sage sauce is easily split by two diners for a hearty appetizer. And one has to be really hungry, I think, to finish the enormous portion of first-rate eggplant parmigiana that graced our plates. As one might expect, many of Maelleria’s fans come here to satisfy their carnivorous cravings. Our attentive waiter suggested the rib-eye (over the T-Bone), and we were not disappointed by the beautifully charred, perfectly rare, and slightly fatty piece of meat that was delivered. In true steakhouse fashion, side dishes must be ordered a la carte. We really wanted the creamed spinach or fried zucchini, but opted for the more virtuous sautéed spinach instead. Virtue, of course, has little place when ordering dessert, though a full stomach is definitely a deterrent. We forced ourselves to take a bite – well, make that three or four – of the first-rate apple strudel, encased in a supremely flaky dough. And tempted as we were to linger over our cappuccinos, we knew the time had come to give up our piece of real estate and let others enjoy the experience of being at Macelleria.
Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
48 Gansevoort St (Greenwich & Washington Sts)
New York, NY
Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-12am Sat & Sun 11am-11pm
Entree Price: $15-20