Somehow this fabulous meal got lost in the shuffle. The past few months have been quite a whirlwind. A beach vacation couldn't come at a more perfect time. (I'm not there yet, but pretty darn close.) Anyways, not last Wednesday, but the Wednesday before, my sister and I dined at Artu a neighborhood go-to located at 6 Prince Street. In the past I've had great meals - usually in the form of specialty pizzas accompanied by an espresso martini at the bar. The bar at Artu is a often packed with locals and tonight was no exception. We decided to eat in the dining room, also bustling with patrons and newly renovated. We were seated at a corner table next to to the window and beside this striking canvas wall painting. For a moment I was concerned about what I read on the bottom of the menu. The "No splitting of orders, a minimum dollar amount per person and the two credit card per table limit" had me questioning the owners definition of hospitality. I don't run a restaurant, but I dine out enough to know that most restaurants these days are open to a) splitting orders, b) allowing you to eat whatever you want (what if a member of the party just wanted a salad or an app?!) and c) Accommodating all forms of payment, even if this includes multiple credit cards split more than two ways. Let it be known that none of these three constraints affected mine or my sisters dining experience, but I do want my readers to be fully informed. I got over the writings on the menu rather quickly, and our waiter, Max, was no slouch in the hospitality department. Leah and I already had a glass of red at home so we opted out of the specialty fall cocktails and split a half bottle of Chianti, DOCG ($15) Ruffino - Tuscany. We were served a standard loaf of white bread and butter, nothing special. For my entree I chose a dish I had always wanted to try but believe it or not had never taken the plunge. Spaghetti alla Carbonara ($15) pancetta, pecorino cheese, eggs. There's a first time for everything. It has been two weeks and I'm still in a state of complete awe and satisfaction over the perfection of this pasta dish. Each string of spaghetti equally and generously, but not overwhelmingly so, was coated in a rich cheesy egg sauce were it mingled with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and layers of salty pancetta that was both tender and lightly crispy. The presentation was finished off with a bright green pop of parsley. Since I've never had this dish before, certainly I am an amateur judge by comparison. But being a pretty good judge of taste and texture, this was an excellent plate of pasta. All I need's a Carbonara aficionado to confirm. Leah's Pollo Parmigiana ($16) got positive reviews. The generous slice of chicken cutlet is pounded thin and topped with breadcrumbs, melted mozzarella, a helping of tomato sauce and of course parmesan cheese. This dish represents a simple Italian classic done right. We did think it unusual that pasta had to be ordered on the side. My experience has been that your choice pasta comes with the entree meat, but perhaps the Artu way is traditional and I am off base. Pictured below is a Side of Pasta ($5.50) al dente with just the right amount of red sauce.
I'm convinced they know their Italian food and I've been here enough to know the quality is consistent. If the food alone has swayed you, just make sure individual members of large parties plan to eat a full meal, have cash, or plan to put the bill on less than two credit cards! For traditional Italian dishes served in a pleasant environment with attentive staff, or for a lively bar scene with seasonal cocktails and delicious pizza, be sure to check out the North End's Artu Rosticceria & Trattoria.