Tables for Two
by Kelly Snowden, New York Observer contributor, 02/05/2009
136 Division St. • 212-941-5060
Hidden on the edge of Chinatown is the unassuming Bacaro, a Venetian-inspired tavern with floor-to-ceiling front windows and old world style and hospitality. The upstairs is the more sophisticated of the two dining rooms, with detailed black woodwork and marble countertops on a curving bar. The major action can be found in the labyrinthine downstairs, where tunnels lead to hidden rooms that invite exploration, and encourage dining in your own cocoon, even if you're sharing a communal table. Frilly, detailed glassware and ornate chandeliers contrast with exposed brick walls and rough-edged tables. The service is similarly high/low, with an informed but informal staff. Italian varietals dominate the wine list, with several reasonably priced carafes. The smaller bites are the best bets on the menu, with comfort staples like fried meatballs, fritto misto and salumi. Squash blossoms stuffed with fresh ricotta and flash-fried are hot and crisp on the outside, soft and warm on the inside. Mains like mushroom gnocchi and a still-sizzling rabbit lasagna are strong as well. The soft lighting and choppy layout invite lingering and falling into your own rhythm. On the way out you might notice boisterous revelers you didn't even know were there.
Table for Two
This deuce (#15), set almost by itself off the main subterranean room, offers privacy and candle-lit atmosphere. They don't take reservations, though, so get there early if you want to snag it.
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