Lusso (closed)

by Susan on February 17, 2009

[Food:2.5/5]

In Manhattan’s vast dining landscape, Lusso won’t likely register a blip on the Richter scale. But in SoHo (my stomping ground), the magnitude could be much greater. Who doesn’t anticipate a new restaurant opening in their neighborhood? We’re always hoping it’s going to be the new go-to place; our Thursday night savior.

Lusso is located on the corner of West Broadway and Grand, SoHo’s mecca of mediocre dining. Its neighbors include Felix, Diva, and Novecento. And those are just the ones within spitting distance. Relatively speaking, culinary superiority should not be too difficult a feat.

Dark wooden tables, exposed brick walls, and flickering votives create an attractive ambiance with a downtown vibe. Though the bar area is small, much attention has been paid to the drink menu and a plasma television sits atop the liquor shelves. The way the tables are situated, most diners can’t see the screen, but you know it’s there, and its hard not to wonder whether new-owner Michael Carpinillo is more concerned with wooing drinkers or diners.

The Crostini with chicken liver heightened our expectations. Decadent, smooth, and rich pate was generously slathered atop slices of bread that were both soft and crusty.

The Gnocchi that followed was not as impressive, but for pasta that is often made with too much heft and not enough finesse, Lusso’s was very good. While its dressing of cream sauce, and garnish of peas, bacon, and mushrooms, weren’t novel, it was an earthy and pleasant dish.

It was the next set of dishes that lost their foothold.  A crock of Lasagna with lamb, celery root béchamel, and spinach pasta was soupy and bland. The overcooked lasagna noodles were limp and lifeless. The less-than-robust marinara sauce was thin.

The sight of the Anatra, roasted duck breast perched atop brussel sprouts and farro, falsely elevated our hopes before dropping them back on West Broadway. The duck was drastically under seasoned. The menu’s promise of cherry agro dolce was limited to a few whole cherries that we desperately cut into small pieces to disperse among our otherwise dull and flavorless bites.

Full, but not content, it was the homemade ladyfingers that convinced us to order the Tiramisu for Two. When it arrived in the same crock the lasagna had been served in we experienced a distasteful dining déjà vu. But one bite of the balanced confection had us swooning. Both the texture and density were idyllic. The cream was lavish.

Lusso also gets praise for attentive and friendly service; both were superior to what we’ve recently experienced in restaurants across Manhattan. In that sense, Lusso was a very good neighbor. But will the neighborhood return the sentiment? Only time will tell.

Lusso
www.lussonyc.com
331 W. Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 431-0131

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