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Eat, Date, Love

June 22, 2023

The couple behind Via Carota created one of New York’s best restaurants. Now they have an empire.

It’s amore. That’s what New York’s acclaimed Via Carota was built from. The romantic spot in the heart of Greenwich Village is here thanks to a love of Italy as well as the love between the chefs and owners behind the famed establishment. James Beard award-winning chefs and partners in business and life Rita Sodi and Jody Williams opened Via Carota, their first venture together, nearly a decade ago. The New Yorker calls it New York’s most perfect restaurant, it’s recently released its own line of bottled cocktails, and if you are a sucker for celeb gossip, Taylor Swift considers the eatery a part of “her New York.” It seems as if everyone is in love with Via Carota, and the love affair is long lasting. For almost ten years, a lifetime in New Yorker years, Via Carota has consistently captured the hearts and stomachs of celebrities, writers, and locals alike. New Yorkers love the simple Florentine-inspired pastas served in the warm restaurant that make you feel like you are visiting an Italian family’s home. (If that Italian family home had an endless waitlist cheekily scribbled in chalk.) Guests who are lucky enough to get inside are greeted by antique decor, inspired by Sodi’s family’s 13th-century home on Via Carota, the street she grew up on in Italy and the restaurant’s namesake. (Her family still lives there today.) Take a look around and you’ll see vintage plates, cups, books, and art randomly yet artfully scattered throughout the small restaurant’s nooks and crannies.

AFFOGATO FOR DESSERT
Photo by Via Carota

Order anything off of the menu and you’ll discover the dishes are unfussy, allowing the flavors of the ingredients to shine through with each bite. Via Carota’s Insalata Verde is famous for a reason. The light sherry vinaigrette drizzled on the tower of leafy greens enhances the bright sweet freshness of the butter lettuce and cuts the bitterness of the frisée. The salad is topped off with walnuts that provide crunch and earthiness to round the dish out. It is, in a word, outstanding. The Tonnarelli cacio e pepe dish is composed of creamy, buttery square shaped spaghetti cooked to the perfect edge of firmness, topped with pepper and nutty parmesan. While it’s the restaurant’s signature dish, the entire menu and extensive Italian wine list give diners reasons to return again and again.

THE TONNARELLI CACIO E PEPE (ABOVE ON RIGHT) TAKES CENTER STAGE DURING FAMILY-STYLE DINING
Photo by Via Carota

It was a love of food that brought the Via Carota’s owners together. On an unassuming evening in 2008, Williams wandered into Sodi’s Greenwich Village restaurant, I Sodi, in search of authentic Italian cuisine. Sodi, who grew up on a country farm outside Florence, Italy, had opened the now acclaimed Italian restaurant earlier that year. Williams first tasted a plate of fried artichoke hearts and fell deeper in love with each dish that followed. She then went up to speak to Sodi, who was eating at the bar, and soon fell in love with her too. Two years later, Williams opened her Frenchstyle gastrothèque, Buvette, around the corner from I Sodi. It began as a small rustic spot with some of the city’s best coq au vin and has since grown to a household name, including locations in London, Paris, Tokyo, and Mexico City. Via Carota, opened in 2014 around the corner from I Sodi, was the couple’s first venture together in what is now their West Village restaurant empire. Six years later, the couple opened Bar Pisellino, and last year, they departed Europe for the simplicity of America’s Shaker cuisine, opening The Commerce Inn.

Photo by Via Carota

Today, Via Carota is a treasured New York institution. The New York Times’s “100 Best Restaurants in New York City” recently ranked it number four among its top-rated restaurants this year. Sodi and Williams commemorated the eatery just ahead of its 10-year anniversary by publishing Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking from the Beloved Greenwich Village Restaurant. In the age of doing it for the ‘gram, Via Carota wasn’t meant to be trendy (though it certainly is, quite literally, one of the trendiest restaurants in NYC). It’s a simple, charming, understated place where food and family take precedent over Instagrammable neon signs and floral walls. Via Carota is the love child of two famous foodies who came together to celebrate fresh ingredients without boasting “farm to table” at every turn. The food speaks for itself, and the atmosphere is homier than other swanky establishments with long lines. There is nothing ephemeral about Via Carota’s charm. Unlike other restaurants of cult following, you won’t find influencers filming a TikTok dance while spilling their neon orange Aperol Spritz onto your table here. You’re more likely to spot a politician, a celebrity, or a fixture of The Village. There’s one reason and one reason only that keeps die hard foodies and first timers captivated by Via Carota: the food will bring you to your knees. The culinary genius is what makes Via Carota a staple of NY restaurant culture, especially among food experts (the New Yorker named half a dozen chefs who cite it as a favorite including GrubStreet’s Ruth Reichl, cookbook author and TV host Samin Nosrat, and former White House chef Sam Kass). Via Carota does not take reservations, but trust us, it’s worth the wait. (51 Grove Street, New York, NY; viacarota.com @viacarota)

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