Over its 72-year existence, Minetta Tavern has attracted post-bout fighters, Beat poets, and not a few curious tourists. It has been a second home for Village fixtures like Joe Gould, a place where artists bartered pictures for meals, and a location for films like Sleepers. Mostly, though, it was a middling Italian restaurant coasting on decades of nostalgia.
As of March 10, give or take, it'll be a culinary destination, when Keith McNally and his chef-partners Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr reopen it as a meticulously restored 85-seat bistro, vintage murals and photo gallery intact.
The French framework of the compact menu is expansive enough to feature old-fashioned classics, like billi bi and frog's legs, and still make room for an Iberian incursion or two, like salt-cod-and-piquillo-stuffed calamari, and the ne plus ultra of ground-meat spectacles, the Pat La Frieda "Black Label" burger.
There's a section devoted to the tavern-esque fare you'd expect in such historic quarters: dry-aged cuts of meat like bone-in New York strip, served a la carte with a steakhouse-worthy selection of potato and vegetable sides. Think Keens crossed with La Grenouille, down to the Grand Marnier souffle.
Because this is a McNally operation, there is also a supper menu served from midnight to 2 a.m., an array of bar snacks from gougres to La Quercia ham, and a litany of $14 cocktails, both classic and original, some showcasing period-appropriate brown spirits, and all, it's safe to say, a bit too steep for today's boozing beatniks.
113 Macdougal St., at Minetta Ln.; 212-475-3850