I liked the vibe of this Italian restaurant’s minimalist decor. A large iron circular staircase is the main point of architectural interest and directly in your line of sight as you enter from the street. The main room on the second floor is a bit more intimate and includes exposed brick and racks of wine bottles, that I liked more than the first floor.
The Northern Italian menu will prove tempting but it will hit your wallet with many entrees more than $40. However, on my visit which happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day, I was impressed by the level of service and quality of the dining experience, which included serving our party of seven. The waitstaff was attentive without being overbearing and extremely knowledgeable, making thoughtful recommendations to several members of our party.
I was among the first in my party to arrive so I started at the first floor bar with a martini, but after we were seated and ordered, I switched to wine and started my dinner with restaurant’s traditional Caesar salad, which was beautifully plated. The crisp, fresh cool vegetables and sharp Parmigiano Reggiano contrasted nicely with my dinner that followed – linguine con frutti di mare. The dish was piled high with succulent and somewhat sweet shellfish including chunks of lobster, crab meat and shrimp. The fra diavolo sauce had kick but was more mild than spicy. Portions were hearty, and I left more than an hour later pleasantly full.
While the cost of the restaurant may be a deterrent for some, it was worthwhile and a place I’d recommend without hesitation, although I might suggest requesting tables away from the entrance to ensure you have more privacy.
Valbella is located in the meatpacking district 421 West 13th Street, NYC.