Da Silvano-great or just hype?
Message title pretty much is the question at hand..any thoughts?
My vote: Hype.
However, Da Silvano is ideal when the weather is great and you want to dine outdoors and relax without focusing on the food too much. That is, the food is good enough so that you don't notice it and won't be disappointed by it.
During my last visit, I had a grilled fish, possibly branzino. The waiter presented it to me whole before grilling; it was simply prepared and tasted very fresh. No complaints.
Wine selection is very good and predominately Italian.
Service was spotty my last time there; most of the staff were not native English speakers. The staff was courteous but generally insouciant about the urgency of a given request; in this respect, their demeanor was decidely Italian (which some people may find endearing; I don't).
Da Silvano is also a people-watching hotspot. Recognizable faces abound (my girlfiend and I sat next to Rupert Everett, his dog and his guest last time we were there).
Overall, I didn't find Da Silvano to be head-and shoulders better than its less expensive neighbor, Bar Pitti, nor worth the expense.*
If food is not the focus, you might as well pay less for it at Bar Pitti. If you want good food, you won't be disappointed by Da Silvano, except when it comes to paying the bill (generally overpriced though not quite in the unjustifiably-exorbitant category).
*But see posts below warning about unexpectedly expensive bills at Bar Pitti experienced by those lulled into indulgent ordering in light of moderately-priced apps & entrees.
Only ate here once - when Bar Pitti was just too packed to even consider waiting, and they had a table without waiting. The food was very good, although great would be a stretch - we had a pasta with sausage that was fairly standard and then a veal chop that was very yummy. Service was on the snippy side - we split a pasta and entree and an app and only had glasses of wine, and this lack of spending of $$ seemed to annoy them no end. Plus there was an annoying incident where I said "no cheese" on my pasta and then the guy, on autopilot, starts dumping away with the grater while I'm waving frantically for him to stop. Plus we were packed cheek by jowl with one of the most pretentious and self-satisfied NY crowds it has ever been my pleasure to dine with (must be that "art world" crowd that supposedly hangs out here?)
I don't really know why it would be worth the $$, but I'm told it's different if you are a regular.