You can already get hand-rolled pasta at Laurenzo's Restaurant on Washington Avenue. The Italian and steak-focused restaurant from the Laurenzo family, best known for its matriarch Ninfa, who opened her eponymous Mexican spot in 1973, welcomed a sequel last Monday with the opening of Laurenzo's Bar & Grill in Midtown. And according to executive chef and co-owner Domenic Laurenzo, the new spot is already distinguishing itself from its older sibling.
Next Monday, the restaurant at 1910 Bagby Street will host its first weekly Prime Rib & Wine night, with Laurenzo's signature cut served for $2-per-ounce and $5 glasses of select wines. On Tuesday, discounted ribeye and filet will be offered alongside $3 draught beer and $4 frozen margaritas. Chef Donny Navarrete is finalizing the menu for the brunch that will debut the following Sunday, with offerings to include crab omelettes modeled on Laurenzo's crab enchiladas, chicken-and-waffles, and Bananas Foster pancakes.
But the best reason to visit the new restaurant is the next-level pasta. Laurenzo says he's been focusing on culinary chemistry, and the scientific knowledge has upgraded his command of his hand-rolled ribbons of starch. Overall, the menu in Midtown is significantly abbreviated from the Washington one, which allows the culinary team to focus on perfecting the dishes that are available.
For example, the Sunday gravy, served at the original restaurant with linguine and meatballs, has been upgraded with paper-thin strands of wide pappardelle. And not only meatballs are served — so are Italian sausage and braised pork butt in Mama Ninfa's Naples sauce, a spicy tomato sauce made extra hearty with the addition of pepperoni.
But the thing to try at Laurenzo's Bar & Grill isn't available at the other location at all: The brisket deckle ravioli (the deckle is the fattier point of the cut) is a truly special dish. Inside the four extra-large ravioli are thin slices of the unctuous, smoked beef combine with chewy mozzarella. The rounds of thin pasta are bathed in the piquant Naples sauce, too, and accompanied by lovably toothsome sourdough that's baked at the family's El Tiempo Market. It reminded me powerfully of my grandmother's specialty, braised brisket in tomato sauce. But no matter what culinary tradition you call yours, that satisfying plate of carbs is likely to make you think of your grandma, too.