Bleecker Street has always been my favorite street in the city due to all the bright signs, bakeries, cheeses, cookies, street singers and crafty stands. Baker & Co, the sister restaurant of Nolita’s Emporio, offers a collection of similar Italian options minus the pizza. Instead of the glass roof, they have an outdoor patio which can make a dining experience in the crowded West Village all the more enjoyable. However, once inside it doesn’t feel like a typical New York hot spot. It feels loose, casual, filled with young people, and no one is in a rush. It’s seems to be a good meeting spot for those looking to go out on a weekend night and not wanting to spend a fortune on dinner.
For the most part, everything we had was delicious – nothing too surprising or out of this world but definitely satisfying and familiar. I like how they bring out the dishes in courses when you order from each section which is divided into Cured Meat, From the Oven, First Course, Pasta and Main Course. We started with the Tuna Tartare and the Roasted Cauliflower which has brussels sprouts, tomatoes and bottarga. The light breadcrumb coating on these veggies is stupendous, and I think this ended up being my favorite dish of the night. Sometimes you just need vegetables, even if they have a little unhealthy additives, it still feels so right. The tuna tower was fresh, almost looked like it came from an Asian cuisine, and the sauce, which was a tomato broth worked.
Cauliflower + Brussels Sprouts
Now the Mac ’N Cheese baked in the black skillet with a few noodles burned crisp is what drove me here in the first place. Rule number one- dishes in skillets always have a better advantage of being tastier. Rule number two- if mac ’n cheese doesn’t have breadcrumbs on top for that added crunch it will never be a winner. Baker & Co. offers both, making happy campers. Upon delivery, I didn’t think this would be enough for three of us and yes, I had a bit on an embarrassing internal panic, but the dish happened to be never ending. So yes, it can feed a nice size group. The Rabbit Meatballs were interesting. I never got a grasp on how I actually felt but they really just tasted so different and were in more of a marsala mushroom sauce when I expected tomato sauce. They almost reminded me of the texture of The Meatball Shop’s chicken meatballs. Not as dense as beef or pork but still good. We got the snapper special with crab meat which was a decent size and also perfect for sharing with our group of three.
Overall, Baker & Co. does a great job with service, offers excellent menu items that cause you to debate internally what to order and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I’d call it a pretty reliable dinner option when you need something asap and want Italian. I’d also throw it into the First Date category for sure.