First Impressions: Serafina

Back story: Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato founded Serafina in 1995, and the chain now has locations in Dubai, Tokyo, Mumbai, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, and other cities around the world. The new Tribeca restaurant, in an annex to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, is the tenth in New York City.

The atmosphere: The two-story building that used to house MaryAnn’s Mexican restaurant (since renamed Dahlia’s), has been totally redone, inside and out. There are 128 seats over three floors, including the private-event space below ground. In my experience, the top floor is quieter, but bear in mind that the restaurant is already very popular with families.

The menus: The menu is the same at lunch and dinner, while brunch has its own options. (Breakfast service will start in the fall.) Pastas are categorized as Classic or Serafina Gourmet, but in reality they’re pretty much all traditional combinations. Pizzas get even more categories, with only one or two legitimately original—such as the questionable one with smoked salmon, mozzarella, wasabi, and Thai basil. Entrées are barely Italian at all, and include steak frites, salmon with lentils, a burger, and avocado toast. (Similarly, half of the cocktail menu is devoted to margaritas.)

Gold star: Sitting by the big open doors on the ground floor or the windows upstairs, with Bogardus Plaza across the street, is a pleasure (although the environmentalist in me didn’t feel great about the air conditioning blasting away).

Room for improvement: I tried three salads, one pizza, and two pastas. The Caesar salad was inedible—weirdly wet, but not with dressing, because it had no flavor at all; the Porto Cervo salad was bland but serviceable; the watermelon and feta salad was good. The pizza was better than I expected, although a far cry from Kesté’s. And the pastas were both disappointments: Neither the porcini ravioli nor the tagliolini with pesto, potatoes, and green beans was described as having cream, but they were drenched in it. Whether or not you’re fine with a 50% acceptable rate is a matter of personal preference. When I imagine myself deciding to eat at Serafina, rather than one of the many other midrange Italian restaurants in this area, it’s not because the food is interesting or ambitious. It’s because the restaurant should be convenient and reliable.

Anything else? The restaurant is clearly a work in progress, judging from the hand dryer being installed during dinner and the nail gun being used during lunch, so perhaps it will improve. (Not that the crowds of patrons seem to care either way.) As for the service, it was eager on both of my visits, so let’s hope that experience will soften the rough edges. Also: I was told in person that the restaurant doesn’t take reservations for parties under six, but when I called to confirm that, they said they take reservations over the phone for parties of all sizes.

Serafina is at 95 W. Broadway (at Reade); 212-766-2700; serafinarestaurant.com.

Recent New Kid on the Block / First Impressions articles:
1803
Alumnae
Book Nook Enrichment
Del Frisco’s Grille
Cryofuel
Brooklyn Flea
Think Coffee
INColour
Xtend Tribeca
L’Angolo

25 Comments

  1. The serafina chicken salad is delicious but make sure you ask for the chicken to be warm.
    – says the 9mospregnant lady

  2. I was disappointed. Caesar salad- only thing good was the shaved cheese on top. Pizza bland. Staff nice but over did the taking of plates and refilling water way too much- it interrupted the conversation too many times.

  3. The must go to community board meeting and everyone else should attend and complain about all the homeless right in front of them in Reade park and west Broadway. That is what the open windows face. The smell on the block is horrible. Why would I want to eat there farting that. It’s a mess on Greenwich street Washington market park also. Mentally homeless people

  4. No one is doing anything about the area which is unsafe for all especially young kids. Lots of homeless around the area right near sarafina the train the park 310 Greenwich street. I never seen it so bad. Please investigate this mess

    • Please take a moment to call 311 and make a complaint if it is upsetting you. I called about the glut of homeless at the WTC E station and it’s improved a tiny bit since then. It isn’t effective to wait for others to take action, make the call yourself and then ask others to join you.

      • I have called and numerous people in the area also called. nothing is being done and its only getting worst. Maybe when school starts the parents in the area will not stand for it and do something more about it. First Precent said they can’t do anything unless the homeless are breaking the law. I heard Bowery Mission is closed also.

  5. Dear Native,
    What would you suggest? That we warehouse them in jail like conditions as NYC used to do. They had no mental heath services and lived in terrible conditions. Rather than investigate, do something – get involved in homeless services. There are a number of not-for-profit groups that work at all levels of this problem, from job training to housing to mental services. Enough with the investigations. Or do you just don’t want to look at them? They don’t assault anyone. I agree they don’t small very good, but they need some assistance, not scorn.

    • Danny, the bartender, is awesome. Had the steak salad and it was palpale. The large window-doors are a wonderful feature allowing the dining room to engage with the street. There are other weird things, like not being able to find the lick on the upstairs bathrooms (hint: it’s under the handle apparently).

      Native: Spend some time in Boston… the homeless population in Back Bay is EXTREMELY agressive, with a fairly healthy drug and prositution ring going on as well. Our homeless are mild and really just… homeless. Many are good pepole in need of basic mental health services, and maybe a shower. So sorry you dislike seeing homeless people when you’re eating your $50 meal. Perhaps it instills fear thst many of us arw only one step or paycheck away from the same life? Perhaps you should eat less and give half your meal to a homeless person. I do think the collective community (meaning business owners and tenants) could do a better job at cleaning their front yards… My building is one of the few that I see power washing it’s sidewalks monthly.

      • I have read all the comments on the homeless situation in our area and know its everywhere ( even worst in Boston). I always feel for these people and try to help and do my part ( a sandwich , money even donate at the mens mission bags of clothing couple of times a year). But these people around Chambers Street, our trains Greenwich street and all over are mental. Some are going to the bathroom in daylight right in the street and I just heard of in incident of someone going into Washington Park and almost getting raped.

        • Native 2- for your information I am the fourth generation living in the city of New York. I do not eat $50 sandwiches and do not look at homeless people that way. When it endangers our community which it is and nothing being done about it that is an issue. I always know how close we can all be to that situation.

    • Unfortunately I don’ t have an answer for the homeless. I do know that I shouldn’t have to walk over ziploc bags of urine every morning and feces on the stairs into my building. That when I take my kid out on Sunday morning that I should not have to see a shirt list man fondling himself. I know the response is “move to Montclair” and believe me I count my blessings every day and think “there but for the grace of God” but there has to be a middle ground.

      • I tend to think “warehousing” a few more of “the homeless” might be an improvement for all concerned. They’re often either chronic alcoholics passed out from a bender or profoundly schizophrenic and delusional. Leaving them to wander about Tribeca doesn’t seem a good solution for them or us.

  6. Native–I could agree more. It’s inconceivable to me (though I should be used to it in this overly liberal shell that’s left of a once great city) that you’d be attacked for expressing your (perfectly natural and normal) disgust for the situation that plagues that area. And native2, you have your head in quicksand if you’ve not witnessed just how agressive this city’s homeless has become. Boston is far better off (in virtually every way). And as usual, Native is subjected to hate for having the means to attempt to enjoy a great meal. I say, Native, eat, drink, be merry and enjoy it! And hopefully, a new mayor, preferably a return to one with a brain, will clean up this homeless mess!

  7. I know this sounds so negative, but I have to say that this one post is symbolizing why Tribeca is just not the place to live it was before…. yet another restaurant chain has moved in with mediocre food and strollers lined up so deep that you can’t move around, and the homeless are taking over. The neighborhood smells horrible and there are scenes that are so awful to put to words. We all see it. We have all written letters and we have all called 311. It’s just getting worse.

    • I’ve also called 311 numerous time and they are very responsive. Unfortunately when it comes to the garbage chained together outside of Kings Pharmacy they tell me that in that situation it’s an issue for the police.

  8. I’ve tried to go here several times since it opened and each time they were very unfriendly about my stroller/baby (and it was a travel stroller I offered to fold up very small and a quiet baby that would sit on my lap). Two weeks ago three of us moms tried to go for a late lunch with babies on a Wednesday and they flat out told us we couldn’t come in (and there was perfect space for us that we were told wasn’t reserved). Every time I’ve ever tried to spend money there it’s been reasonably off hours.

    Look, I get it. Babies can be annoying and strollers obnoxious. Maybe it’s not the vibe you want for your restaurant. That’s fine (though maybe not wise in TriBeCa). I try to be considerate of these things when I am out. This place very clearly doesn’t want my business. I think they could have more tact. They’ve been really unpleasant to me, so I won’t go there with or sans baby. Rather, I’ll go to places with polite staff.

  9. If you are blessed enough to be able to live in Tribeca, there is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy your neighborhood and saying we have a problem with the homeless. And while most homeless are not dangerous, and sadly mentally ill, there are some who are aggressive and dangerous too. But complaining about the homeless is not the answer. And many people, as much as they would like to get involved, simply do not have time. And there is nothing wrong with that. But, all residents of Tribeca pay taxes. And our mayor has done a terrible job of allocating those taxes to fix this situation which is city wide. If you want to improve your neighborhood and help the homeless through long term, sustainable solutions, let’s elect an effective mayor. This is not a political comment. It’s common sense. I don’t care if they are republican, democrat or independent. It’s simple; we have a problem, and it’s getting worse. Let’s elect someone who just gets the job done!

  10. Looks like a nice place. Have to try it.

  11. We had a thoroughly mediocre meal at Serafina’s, which we decided to try in s moment of neighborhoodly spirit. The Caesar salad was wilted and tasteless, and my cache e pepe pasta was drenched in oil and a far cry from my idea of what that dish should be. Almost every table except ours at 7 pm was a large family group with many noisy children. I love children but bear that in mind if you don’t, and go later. Or better yet, try Gigino’s or Ecco or any number of far better non-corporate chain restaurants in the immediate vicinity. The homeless is another issue altogether, and a tragic one. Yes, they exist. But to call the neighborhood unsafe is s joke.

  12. i went recently with my wife and the food was frankly disappointing, especially compared to the other serafina’s i have been to uptown which are pretty reliable. not sure why they cant bring in some of the folks who know how to cook and run the place from those other chains?

    on the homlessness point, it has clearly gotten worse over the past few years. I agree that it isnt an issue of safety but rather quality of life. 311 is a black hole. we live on reade street and have called to complain about the dumpster pickup outside the old NYSC which frequently (and illegally) occurs between 3-5am on weeknights, to no avail. a big thank you to whoever has been overnight parking immediately next to the dumpster recently so they cant pick it up!

  13. As a resident, i am also very troubled by the homeless issue. Perhaps this community of readers could somehow start a petition to galvanize political support to address the problem – it’s not working for either side at the moment. I am no expert on how to do it but there are lots of savvy readers who may know soemthing.

  14. Didn’t it go in the space of Super Linda and not Mary Ann’s?

Comment: