With a keen eye for up-and-coming neighborhoods, co-owner Sean Rawlinson turned his attention to Manhattan Valley on the UWS for his latest opening, Macchina (2758 Broadway; 212-203-9954). Rawlinson, a veteran of downtown establishments, branched out on his own to Williamsburg with The Bedford in 2009 before the area transformed into America’s beloved artistic enclave. However, despite settling in nicely in Brooklyn — Rawlinson lives in the neighborhood and also opened Roebling Sports Club nearby — the fiery call of a wood-burning oven tempted him to seek an address on Broadway.
Rawlinson realized that Manhattan Valley had a strong sense of community, yet lacked a restaurant that was “simple but still elegant. You want to be a neighborhood restaurant first and foremost.” That’s one reason the restaurateur and his partner Daddo Bogich chose to focus on easy-to-love Italian dishes, such as homemade pastas and pizzas. Browsing through the menu, guests will realize this isn’t a red sauce joint, as the cuisine isn’t confined to one region or traditional style of Italian cooking.
For instance, the agnolotti on a recent visit was accompanied by carrots and topped with hazelnuts and mint. Pizza is made in the Neapolitan style, but features American flour as an ingredient and diverse seasonal toppings like figs, Yukon gold potatoes, and pistachio depending on the version you choose. Guests can also opt for starters like wood-fired clams with bacon or octopus terrine if they’re planning to carbo load later on. Main courses include a Berkshire pork chop, chicken spiced with Calabrian chili, and a cauliflower steak — a vegetarian option which is an important aspect of Macchina’s menu. “People want vegetarian dishes that don’t suck,” Rawlinson says.
The interior reflects the aesthetics of industrial design — macchina translates to car in Italian. The space has 60 seats in an open, factory like setting. Exposed brick walls serve as the background for booths filled with black cushions and wood panels, and floor to ceiling windows open up to the street side to allow the neighborhood a peak at what’s inside.
Since every good neighborhood spot needs to have drinks, the ten seat bar offers solo diners and small groups the chance to converse and catch up with one another. In addition to twists on cocktails like the negroni and a dirty martini which uses wood-fired olive juice, the bar offers plenty of wine by the glass or bottle. There are also under the radar Italian beers by the bottle like Pink IPA, an American style IPA brewed in Italy, but guests can still grab a Peroni on tap. The restaurant also plans to offer outdoor dining and delivery in the upcoming weeks, with brunch soon to follow.
One distinct change from Rawlinson’s Williamsburg spots? The owner has already used the phrase “see you in the elevator” — word has traveled fast through the walls of Manhattan Valley’s largest buildings.