Good News/Bad News: Civetta

After about a month of unforeseen delays, the chef and owners of UES restaurant Sfoglia along with some new partners opened their Nolita restaurant Civetta on 98 Kenmare. Given the number of celeb studded friends and family nights and the inclusion of a clubby lower-level lounge, the vibe here is much hipper, scenier, downtown than its Italian sister to the north. And the food is different too: the menu here has a more Mediterranean focus with influences from Spain, Greece, and North Africa. So far, the early reviewers pretty much agree its a lovely place for hanging out. But the food? It's mixed:

The Mixed News: Food & Wine's Dana Cowin isn't totally sold: "Cured tuna + artichoke hearts @ Sfoglia's new sibling resto Civetta were good...not so sure about grilled skinny asparagus + curl of uni." However her co-worker Jen Murphy is a fan: "at civetta. insane food. vibe completely different than Sfoglia." [Twitter]

The Good, But Overpriced News: A Chowhounder finds that the service can be a little overbearing ("let me get more than one bite of food before you ask me how I like everything"), but has generally positive feelings about the food: salads are "delicious and fresh," fried sardines are "excellent," main dishes are "beautiful to look at and very well prepared," and the peach cake is "heaven." But she finds the pricing to be a tad unfair: "We live in the neighborhood and would like this to be a regular spot, but with dessert and a couple of chintzy drinks the bill came to over 200 bucks. We'll go back but unfortunatley not as regulars." [Chow]

The Mixed News: The two Menupagers who have weighed in are divided. One is turned off by the "trender hipster Italian" feel of the place and the fact that "the food is average, the portions are small, and the appetizer choices are strange." The other likes Civetta plenty: "I like the style of numerous appetizers/sharing plates, but there are also great entrees. The tuna with artichokes was amazing. Great wine list too." Both users call attention the fact that the restaurant shakes when the subway runs below. [MenuPages]

The Excellent News: Many Yelpers love the place so far: "I would give [it] 4.5 stars. I think the food were very solid. The bread they served us was nice and warm. I ordered mussels as an appetizer; it was excellent. The sirloin for main course was not bad but unremarkable. The dessert was so good. I don't remember the name; but it was something tasted like mocha ice cream with cream and hazelnuts. Very light and good. The place is spacious and cool." [Yelp]

The Terrible News: However, this Yelper isn't so impressed. They are asked to wait downstairs for their resy, forgotten, told it will be an hour, sent downstairs again, forgotten again, and then told to eat downstairs: "Service was horrible, food just average. Really shocking that this resto is related to Sfoglia...We should have gotten up and left the first time that we were told that our table was going to be an hour wait, but wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt as they are just opening. But, not getting a table after waiting an hour and spending over $120 on drinks and apps for 5 people is simply unacceptable." [Yelp]

The Fantastic News: Woman Around Town stops in for dinner and feels that the old Patrissy's space has finally gotten the restaurant it deserves. She has the "best fish dish I've ever eaten," the branzino with lemon marmellata, and likes the "romantic atmosphere." She loves everything else at dinner and says coming back is a no-brainer. [WAT]

The Not so Great News: A Chowhounder thinks Civetta generally succeeds at being a "younger-vibed Italian version of Balthazar" but isn't wowed: "...i'd give all the dishes no lower than B- and no higher than a B+...the combinations of ingredients were interesting and pleasant but just a little short of inspired...everything was yummy enough as bar food, but there wasn't a dish i'd rush back to order again...the prices (as others have noted in a diff thread) seem a bit high...Overall: i think this place will do well, and i'll prob return to try another dish or two at the bar and/or go to the lounge for drinks...but i wasn't impressed enough by the food to justify the prices nor did i feel excited to go back for a full multi-course meal..." [CH]

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