First Impressions: Tutto Il Giorno

Tutto il Giorno Tribeca dining roomSome new restaurants, such as Bâtard, arrive with expectations; others, like Racines NY, are less encumbered. Tutto Il Giorno would be in the former camp, at least for me. Its two siblings in the Hamptons have that light, airy, traditional East End feel, and one might naturally assume that the new outpost on Franklin Street would be along those lines.

One would be wrong. The old Theater Bar/Grace space has been opened up—appealingly, you can see right through to a garden wall in the rear air shaft—but the vibe is cool and contemporary, all somber earth tones, white orchids, and boutique hotel–style music. It’s a close relative of Donna Karan’s Urban Zen stores. (Tutto Il Giorno’s owners are Gabby Karan De Felice and her husband Gianpaolo De Felice.) The room is elegantly organized with booths, banquettes, and a communal table, so you never feel like you’re dining in a room full of furniture, as is so often the case in large restaurants. The materials are far from cheap, the lighting is attractive, and the sound level was perfect—all the more notable because it was Saturday night and the restaurant was filled with young people (in Tribeca, that means under 40). A note on the menu explains that the art is by Gabby’s late father, Stephan Weiss; the wall of black-and-white paintings in the lounge area provides a welcome dash of contrast.

The service could use some attention. While Adam and I waited for our friends at the bar, Bartender #1 only deigned to help us once I had whispered too loudly that I didn’t like being ignored, and then she got royally snitty with Bartender #2, who, for his part, made a lame Negroni. (He didn’t even stir the liquor once he’d poured it into the glass, and the ice was not up to 2014 standards.) Bartender #1 couldn’t decide whether she’d be able to put the drinks on our dinner tab; eventually, she walked away, so we did, too. Our server, meanwhile, was upbeat and very friendly. “She keeps rubbing up against me,” said Adam, and we all laughed, until she did it to me, too. That was actually sort of amusing. Asking if we’d like “a bottle of still or sparkling water,” leaving it to us to raise the possibility of tap water, is a move better suited to the Hamptons.

I crave Italian food that’s both classic and contemporary, but not too far in either direction. The menu leaves room for hope, with simple descriptions such as “pappardelle, whipped controne beans, mussels” and “rigatoni, sweet and hot homemade sausage, peas, touch of cream.” Where other restaurants might take those as departure points, sneaking in herbs or other complexity, at Tutto Il Giorno they’re more like complete lists of ingredients. If you like your Italian food very straightforward, you’ll be happier than those of us who prefer a bit of zest.

Desserts were unmemorable, except for my chocolate gelato. Served in a martini glass and garnished with spun sugar, it was pure Eighties. Perhaps certain foods, as with certain fashions, will come back into style.

Tutto Il Giorno is at 114 Franklin (between W. Broadway and Church), 212-274-8100; tuttoilgiorno.com. Lunch is currently only served on weekends.

Tutto il Giorno Tribeca loungeTutto il Giorno Tribeca barTutto il Giorno Tribeca tablesTutto il Giorno Tribeca salmon crudoTutto il Giorno Tribeca papardelleRecent New Kid on the Block/First Impressions articles:
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3 Comments

  1. My wife and I went there on Monday night. The food was very good and tasty — I didn’t think it too straightforward — but the service definitely needs work. We waited 15 minutes just to place a drink order and eventually had to shanghai anoher waiter to take the order. (And it was not crowded at all). To your comment about your server rubbing up on you, ours kept resting his hand on my shoulder as he stood next to the table. Maybe they think its a way to establish intimacy with their guests? Definitely odd.I hope they get it sorted out though because its a beautiful room and the food was quite good IMHO.

  2. We went the same night as the Citizen (and took a paparazzi shot of him).
    Went for my wife’s birthday. Food was very good. Agree desert needs work. Prices were a bit high vs some of the other top Italian places in the area. Decor was really nice and as a former Grace loyalist I was happy to see a quality transformation of the space.
    Service was a huge mess BUT in fairness this was their first weekend following their opening and had a number of no shows from a staffing standpoint. I discussed this with the manager when he asked about our experience and he was completely determined to make it all work. It was actually one of the only times I have been to a new restaurant recently where the manager showed interest in the performance of the entire restaurant.
    This is typical in the restaurant industry as waitstaff can be very unreliable early on. Once they get a good stable of waitstaff they should be in good shape and this takes a few weeks typically.
    The place was also jam packed which they weren’t anticipating so many people so soon. They even held off posting to opentable and listing their info on their website, but still people rolled in.
    Give them some time and I think this will be a good option in the hood.

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