“Spaghi is short for spaghetti,” explains Mimmo Meloni, co-owner of 2Spaghi, the new restaurant where Franklin Caffé Buon Gusto used to be. “So 2Spaghi means two strands of spaghetti.” But the unofficial name is actually Famose 2Spaghi—”famose” being Roman slang for “let’s go”—so ultimately the name means “let’s go for a little spaghetti,” i.e., a bite to eat. “I want this to be a casual, easygoing place for everybody,” says Meloni. (And in the Roman style, the name is pronounced doo spah-ghee. Romans drop the second-syllable “ay” in “due.”)
Meloni moved to New York City from Italy nine years ago. After working as a manager at various Cipriani locations, he opened Per Lei on the Upper East Side, managed Mediterraneo and Bar Italia, both also on the Upper East Side, and opened Villa de Mille in Soho. For three of those years, he lived on Gold Street in FiDi. “I always loved Tribeca,” he says. “It’s more comfortable, more cozy than on the Upper East Side. The people are friendlier.” While remaining a partner in 2Spaghi, the owner of Franklin Caffé Buon Gusto agreed to hand over the reins to Meloni, who went about making changes.
First, he hired chef Marco Costanzo, who is originally from Trieste. “I knew Marco was perfect when during food tastings he made carbonara and bucatini all’amatriciana in the Roman style. There was no cream in the carbonara, no onions—just egg yolk.” The food is a fusion of Roman and Italian; the lunch menu plays things fairly safe, with panini and pastas and a burger of the day, but the dinner menu is more ambitious (spaghetti with clams and bottarga, risotto “cacio e pepe” with fava beans, oxtail stew with pine nuts and raisins, served with Roman-style artichokes). The kitchen is even baking its own bread, breadsticks, and cracker-like bread. (I can vouch for the bread, which I had at lunch—it was very good.)
The interior doesn’t look that different, the notable exception being the paintings by Hulbert Waldroup. (The one hidden in the back—of a three-way kiss—is provocative, to say the least.) Outside, the change is more dramatic: Meloni installed wooden bar seating around the edge, offering a perch for some of the best people-watching in the area, especially once the scaffolding is taken down.
Brunch will start as early as next weekend, with delivery to follow at some point.
2Spaghi is at 222 W. Broadway (at Franklin), 212-343-3898; 2spaghinyc.com.
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