August tourists crowd well worn cliches of West Village restaurants like the once formidable but now over rated (and over crowded) Babbo. I ranted about Mario's musical taste, his once perfect beef cheek ravioli and paying double for a bottle of wine here. Not as good as it was...
dell'anima, which means soul, is a small Italian wine bar on 38 8th Avenue. Open just two years, the tourists stumble by dell'anima on their search for celebrity chefs while some mighty fine things are going on here.
For the month of August the restaurant will knock 20% off your bill if you come in for lunch Monday thru Friday. Prices are affordable to begin with. That 1998 Notturno Sangiovese from Emilia Romagna was $48. That's a bloody steal offered by an owner who was once the sommelier at Babbo.
I shared a huge starter of bruschetta, a quail salad and a bolognese (along with a bottle and a half of the Notturno) with an old friend who is hands down the best authority on hidden gem restaurants in New York. Chuck's spread sheet of Paris brasseries is worth a small fortune and his exploration of the village's Italian wine bars is nothing short of economic genius. After all, this is a man who travelled across the United States on a dollar. I kid you not.
And I kid you not about this soulful little wine bar. An open kitchen with smells that transport you to Lucca. A wine selection that is affordable, intelligent and for August, 20% cheaper. And while the crowds amble by in search of Mario - Raise your glass to them and wish them well. For you are in soul.