To step into Iron Chef Marc Forgione’s namesake restaurant is to be immediately transported out of Tribeca and into a space reminiscent of a twenty-something’s Pinterest page, where rustic barn weddings are all the rage. A dining room as open as Marc Forgione’s is rare in a town where diners are forced to convince themselves that crammed is “quaint.” The spaciousness suggests that your bill will be helping pay the rent, but it’s worth it for the rustic-chic accents and possibility of brushing shoulders with a Tribeca denizen like Beyoncé or Taylor Swift. What also makes a trip to Marc Forgione’s worth the extra dough? Refined dishes with complex flavors and service that make you feel like a somebody, even if you’re not quite sure what to do when they present you with a finger bowl.
First to be brought to the table were a pair of perfectly puffed potato rolls, butter-glazed and gleaming with a sprinkle of black sea salt on top. They’re best when cut open and smeared generously with the whipped chive butter.
Complimentary bite-sized samples were small in size but big on flavor. Smoked halibut’s bold taste was toned-down nicely when sandwiched between two crisp slices of cucumber and warm everything bagel balls filled with vegetable cream cheese were topped with the perfect pop of salt and onion.
Despite possessing what I consider a sufficiently sophisticated palette, I have yet to reconcile my taste buds with truffles. It was refreshing to see an upscale restaurant with a menu almost entirely void of these trendy fungi. Forgione doesn’t lean on this over-used ingredient to create enticing dishes full of flavor. Instead, he relies on his training in American, French, and Asian cuisines to craft an inspired
menu made up of basic but expertly employed ingredients.
The Chili Lobster starter is fashioned after an Asian crab dish which Forgione takes to the next
level. Sweet lobster knuckles and a rich creamy claw sit atop a spicy chili broth with hints of both
Sriracha and soy.
You’re left wishing there was more lobster to bathe in the broth, but luckily the thick slabs of Texas
Toast are a perfect vehicle for sopping up the remaining soup.
A cornerstone entrée at Marc Forgione is the made-for-two Chicken Under a Brick. The whole Bell and Evan’s chicken is served deboned in a skillet sizzling with pan drippings and demanding to be Instagrammed.
The chicken is moist with sufficiently crunchy skin and accompanied by Yukon potatoes cooked to crispy perfection. The spuds soak in savory pan drippings that are flavored with capers, butter, thyme and rosemary. The greasy goodness is healthified with some greens –broccoli rabe with a bitterness that’s nicely undercut by the surrounding flavors. Last but not least are the fried onions which add the extra oomph.
There’s something on the menu to appeal to every person in your party but limited enough to ensure it’s perfected. Starters range from Kampachi Tartare to Parmigiano Reggiano Agnolotti while entrees run the gamut from scallops with bone marrow croutons to a well-touted T-bone.
Surrounded by exposed brick and well-worn décor, a meal at Marc Forgione feels special yet comfortable and encourages one to stay for a few extra minutes, finishing a cocktail and being treated to next-level services like a coat check for your leftovers. That’s right, when you’re here, you’re too special to have your table cluttered by a take away bag.
is located at 134 Duane Street and serves dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday– Saturday with brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. followed by supper from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 212-941-9401.