403 First Avenue corner of 12th Street
about $80 each for four, with drinks, with tip
I don’t think I’ve met a more sincere maitre d’ than the petite woman at Hearth. We didn’t have reservations when four of us stopped by. We were hoping to get seated at the kitchen pass, a first come-first served area where food is served omakase style. They had just seated another group a few minutes before we walked in but the maitre d’ let us have a table in the back.
The restaurant was buzzing at 8pm so service was a little too slow. It took about 15 minutes to get the chance to order our cocktails and another 15 to actually receive them. We waited another 20 to order our food. I finally waved to the bread guy to get the sommelier’s attention. We didn’t mind, though, because we were able to catch up with our friend from out of town. (The wine list comes with a lot of copy that can keep you entertained while waiting.)
We started with the New Zealand red snapper crudo with lemon, red pepper and some rosemary. They easily popped in our mouths and they were gone in less than 10 minutes. The fava beans and Pecorino salad was more substantial; the pepperoncini adding just a touch of brightness to the dish’s summer flavor. Our Dame Judi Dench vodkas cooled us down while we waited for our main dishes.
Our friend liked the tagliatelle with Laughing Bird shrimp, arugula and basil. But the other wasn’t a big fan of the pork belly (!) that came with the Berkshire pork loin, so I ended up picking from his plate. After all, there is nothing more sad than pork belly going to waste. The Dr. and I split the braised veal breast with sweetbreads, peas, carrots and Hen of the Woods mushrooms. We paired the dish with a side of very firm but tender gnocchi. It was hearty and earthy at the same time, and with the bottle of delicious Sao, we fast-forwarded to autumn.
Hearth reminds me of the early years of The Tasting Room when everything tasted simple. If I wasn’t still mourning the loss of the Alevras’ restaurant, I’d probably make room for Chef Marco Canora and Jordan Frosolone. But like any other Cia favorites, that comes with more than one visit.