WHAT'S HOT IN NEW YORK: Barbetta

Exclusive and unmarked from the street Barbetta is located in Manhattan on Restaurant Row at 46th Street between 8th and 9th Ave.

Barbetta, 3 years away from its 100th Anniversary in 2006, is the oldest restaurant in New York that is still owned by the family that founded it. Barbetta is also the oldest Italian restaurant in New York, and the oldest restaurant in New York's Theatre District.

This three-fold distinction makes this historic restaurant a landmark among New York restaurants. Its landmark status has been recognized by the prestigious and highly selective Locali Storici d'Italia, which has designated Barbetta a Locale Storico (Historic Establishment), the first restaurant in America to have been so named.

Founded in 1906 by Sebastiano Maioglio, Barbetta is now owned by his daughter, Laura Maioglio. Decorated by Ms. Maiglio, an art collector who has decorated with many 18th century Piemontese antiques to evoke the feeling of a palazzo. Most notably a grand chandelier, which hangs in the main dining room and was obtained from a palace in Torino owned by the royal family. Another very important piece is the harpsichord signed Fabbri 1631 in the foyer of the restaurant. The Barbetta garden is exuberantly verdant with century-old trees and flowering with the scented blooms of magnolia, wisteria, oleander, jasmine and gardenia, it is more the setting of a grand country estate than a city garden.

We started our meal off with the most delicious vine ripened tomato, mozzarella and sweet basil salad we've ever had, made by the Maitre d at our tableside. Then came the roasted red beet salad; the roasting was subtle and citrus heightened the natural flavor of the beet in a creative and unique way. The fennel and parmesan salad was savory, a unique blending of two very different and pleasantly pungent flavors. For entrees we had salmon served in a light herb cucumber sauce and venison so tender, mild and seasoned to perfection you wouldn't know it was wild game you were tasting. We then sampled a wide array of memorable desserts able to accommodate any palate. All of which were dazzling and decadent. The service was amazing and having allowed the Maitre d to choose our wines he provided an exquisitely new experience of wines we otherwise wouldn't have known about. Notably the crispest most pure pinot grigio we've ever tasted from a winery located in the north of Italy bordering Switzerland.

If you enjoy fine dining and decor then this beautiful and exclusive New York City restaurant is a must. Located at 321 West 46th Street, Phone (212)246-9171, Website www.barbettarestaurant.com

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