February 20, 2017 Update:
This is not your ex’s Hearth. The 13 year old East Village staple got a makeover, Marco Canora seems happier and healthier, and the menu essentially turned upside down. Some of the remains like the terrific Gnocchi, the Spatchcock chicken, and the light but pungent Rigatoni with pork ragu are now the classics, but much of the menu has changed. The emphasis continues to be on highest quality raw material. In fact you can even say some of this stuff, like the bone broth is life changing. Although I’m almost ashamed to say I only had it once, from the Brodo window. While it was great, its hard for this non-resident to go for bone broth in arguably the best food neighborhood on the east coast.
But I’m more convinced now that this may be New York’s best Gnocchi dish. The texture of these melty pillows cant get much better. This time a little more peppery which means more brownie points. And when you get a pasta dish like the Rigatoni that is not smothered in saucy ragu, but tastes just as rich, its a home run. The Rigatoni itself had a nice bite and was cooked to a perfecto al dente. This night we also discovered a wonderful tender rabbit with polenta (below). Although the mushroom app didnt wow as the hen of the woods last time, I would still order mushroom here. And the Cecina sent us back to the old town of Lucca.
But the main reason for the 2 stars instead of 3 is the value. I rarely complain about dish sizes here. I think I complain more about dishes being too large if anything. There’s no doubting the quality of the four pieces of Hanger, but when you share with your family of four steak loving freaks, you are left with a few bites and a tease. This steak is about 50% smaller than similar steaks. Same idea goes for the $22 Roasted Octopus. Its an app priced like a main. And the time when you got some nice slices of Sullivan Street Bakery bread for free are over I suppose. But this is high rent New York City. And chefs that can survive this long in this ultra competitive city know a thing or two. We complained a little to ourselves, but at the end of the day, we left full and satisfied. Hearth is still a Go!
July 21, 2014 Post (Shivers, I wrote this?)
I’m on page 18 of the Wine List at Hearth, and I still haven’t seen any mention of wine. I am about to get brainwashed into ordering a Riesling by the 10 pages of why I should be drinking more Riesling, followed by an essay about the glory and history of Riesling, followed by a solid argument that Riesling is more fun than babies. This is like letting one of those Jehovah witness pairs inside your house (Why do they always come with a kid?). Readers, this thing is freakin 75 freakin pages. It provokes you, it challenges you, and it makes you order Riesling
I called it the mothership because Hearth and its Megillah spawned a whole bunch of Terroir wine bars all over town. I think their goal is to have one for every page. We passed one just between the parking spot and the restaurant. Inside its a little bit dark (for the camera), a little bit loud, and I’m a little bit hungry. “Put yourself in our hands” the top of the menu reads. NEVER! Havent you done enough? I’m sitting here writing this, drinking a freshly purchased cheap Riesling straight from the bottle. Anyway, no tasting menus tonight as we are with the kids this time. Here’s what we ordered
Ricotta Sformato – A nice ode to the dysfunctional Broccoli family. Roasted Broccoli, Pine Nuts, Cauliflower, Spigarello and ricotta. Enjoyed this one
Grilled Quail – Expertly cooked quail with rosemary, but what stole the show was the accompanying salad of Faro, Cucumber, Onions, Quail Egg, and very nice tomato preserve that tied everything together. I would order just the salad
Rigatoni with pork ragu – Outstanding! Not your typical heavy ragu. More like a light summary version. In the picture you can barely see any pork, but there was just enough porky goodness. Ther was peas, ricotta and more rosemary, as if fellow Tuscan Cesare Casella of Salumeria Rosi came to visit. Note: Only two pastas at this Tuscan inspired joint, an attribute I actually find refreshing. The smaller the amount the better
Gnocchi side – This led to an uncomfortable conversation with the waitress as I remember reading years ago about the legendary gnocchi of Hearth as one of the best gnocchi dishes in NYC. I asked the waitress if there was perhaps another more substantial gnocchi dish on the menu before (answer is no) and I had to repeat a few times “don’t get me wrong, this is great”. This was excellent but basic cheesy buttery pillowy gnocchi side dish. I do recommend getting this
Spatchcock Spring Chicken – Good, moist, but after a few bites tasted like ordinary chicken. Not as flavorful or imaginative as all the great chickens we’ve enjoyed over the years in the city (NoMad, Annisa, Louro, Scarpetta), but still a solid shareable option for the picky eaters. If not for our Grouper fest last week in Turks and Caicos I would have ordered the fish here.
Veal and Ricotta Meatballs – Absolutely delicious meatballs. But once you take out the Swiss Chard Cannelloni that comes along you are left with $10/meatball. Perhaps the priciest in NYC?
Hen of the Woods side – Even though I’m the only one in my family that likes mushrooms I had to have this thing. Its such a distinct earthy taste, and so so ugly looking (I cant even show you the picture or the selfie I took with it)
Panna Cotta – Good but could have used a little more berry compote. Venice Panna Cottas spoiled us forever. I also noticed they have an Affogato which made me wonder if Affogato can be without any sort of liquor (just ice cream and espresso) and lo and behold it can. I learned something new today
Overall we enjoyed this one and can comfortably recommend Hearth especially to the pickier eaters out there
403 E 12th St
Recommended Dishes: Quail, Rigatoni, Gnocchi, Meatballs, Rabbit, Mushrooms, Cecina