First Look at Vetri’s New Tasting Menu

Tomorrow is March 15. The Ides of March. Slightly more than one month until your taxes are due. Or, if you’re a food nerd, the day that Vetri does away with a la carte and begins serving only a $135-per-person, nine-ish-course tasting menu.

Chef-owner Marc Vetri sent us a sneak peek of the options for the first tasting menu, although as he told us, “You’re going to get a lot more than what’s on the menu. We’re going to start you off with a whole lot of different tastes and flavors that we’ve been messing around with that aren’t on there.”

Diners won’t receive every dish listed here; rather, Vetri and chef de cuisine Adam Leonti can pick and choose from among the selections, based on the diner’s preferences. “Before, if you wanted fish, we’d just make something on the fly. This way, every night, we can offer a vegetarian menu, a fish menu, or just a tasting menu with a variety of meat  and fish and vegetables. You can have a pasta tasting menu. We have things ready.”

It’s not just the opportunity for more latitude in the menus he can serve that has Vetri enthused, it’s the holistic dining experience.

“My issue with all of these high-end 20-plus-course-menu restaurants is: you walk in and you haven’t eaten the whole day because you know you’re eating 20 courses and you’re starving. You have to wait another 30 minutes before you get anything after you sit at your table because you have to discuss the menu and the wine list,” he says. This won’t happen at Vetri.

“I think the coolest thing is when I go to certain restaurants in Italy, you walk into this wine room and here’s a guy slicing prosciutto and there are little vegetable tarts and marinated vegetables. You walk in and they hand you some wine right away and you hang out and you eat. And 20 minutes later you go to your table for your meal. My feeling is, walk in, get a little bit of sparkling wine, and relax. Obviously, we don’t have a separate room — which would be fantastic, but it just ain’t happening in a brownstone. Instead, now, you sit down and we hand you some complimentary prosecco and we say we’re going to bring you a couple things while you’re looking over the menu, like salumi and our homemade prosciutto and we make this herb tart that’s amazing. So you get two or three little snacks. We’ll bring you over the menus afterwords. It’s a nice way to welcome you.”

So far, Vetri says there hasn’t been any blowback from regular customers about the decision to do away with a la carte. “When I say we’ve had literally zero negative comments about it, I’m not exaggerating,” he says. “The impetus to change the menu was the demand for it. Monday through Thursday, 70 to 80 percent of diners were opting to order the tasting menus. It’s been 100% positive so far.” The price stays the same, too: $135 per person.

Here’s the menu:

march 2011

Aperitivo e assagi

di Pesce   (fish)

kindai tuna and swordfish carpaccio
squid and artichoke gallette
lobster and artichoke risotto
paccheri with mackerel and peppers
broccoli agnelloti with bottarga creme
Whole fish “secondo il mercato”

di Terra   (from the earth)
foie gras pastramil with brioche
duck and radicchio crespelle
sweetbreads with broccolini and radish
mint pappardelle with lamb ragu
Casoncelli with sage and pancetta
Cavatelli with braised short rib, celery
Baby goat with freshly stone milled polenta
Stuffed guinea hen with mushrooms
Creekstone aged ribeye with beans trifolati

di Verdure  (vegetable)

sweet onion crepe with white truffle
cauliflower flan with quail egg
Ribollita soup
spinach gnocchi with brown butter
almond tortellini with truffle sauce
risotto with Bluefoot mushroom, castelmagno

Dolce   (dessert)
chocolate polenta souffle
lime soffiato with citrus salad
pistacchio flan with white chocolate gelato
apple fritters with cinnamon gelato
lemon poppyseed cake, red and yellow beet sorbet
piccolo pasticceria

Vetri Menu (PDF)
Vetri [Official Site]