Neroni is out at Porchetta
According to eater, Jason Neroni, the chef, has left Porchetta on Smith and Douglass, so we'll likely see a new spot in this space soon.
I know Porchetta didn't have many fans on this board, but I thought it was a good addition to the neighborhood, and I liked that he was trying to bring more innovative food to the neighborhood.
Seems like Cobble / Carroll/ Boerum is somewhat resistant to innovative cuisine. Taku didn't make it. Now Porchetta. I hope Hibino bucks the trend.
A few points to consider.
First, in my experience (and those of several friends) the issue with Porchetta wasn't the innovative cuisine, but the disconnect between the front and back of the house. Service there was never up to the level of the food, and on one occasion at least was deal-breaker awful.
Second, it seems that to succeed on Smith Street you have to decide whether you want to be Saul Bolton or Alan Harding. Taku's problem was that they couldn't figure out which. (Let us now offer a moment of silence for the late lamented chicken wings.)
And, for what it's worth, restaurants fail all the time in Manhattan for reasons that have nothing to do with the neighboorhood's appetite for innovative cuisine.
While my one meal at Porchetta was okay (far from perfect...a couple dishes were quite good, the lack of balance in the dishes though was ridiculous and months later they still dont offer any ala carte veg/starch dishes), I really didnt consider it innovative. Maybe by Smith St standards but still..
Porchetta failed because it had a pretty mediocre reputation.
Taku was in a very different league. I do hope that Hibino doesnt suffer the same fate, as it reminds me of Taku a little. I think Hibino's prices are slightly more reasonable than Taku.
I did mean by Smith St standards. Porchetta was by no means a WD-50 (or even 71 Clinton) but it was a little more interesting than the french bistros, the mediocre casual spots and the yawn-inducing "thai" and "indian" restaurants that populate most of Smith St. You're right it was far from perfect, but he got bonus points in my book for deviating from the usual standards.
Anyway, here's to hoping the next spot is an even better incarnation. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for a chef with talent and vision to make his or her home on Smith. Sure would be cool to have our very own David Chang here!
Precisely what was innovative about Porchetta? I don't recall seeing anything novel there (unless you consider the "pork martini," and you are welcome to it.) I only ate there once, but the food was just okay, and definitely not surprising or interesting. Given that better, and cheaper, restaurants are in walking distance of Porchetta, I was not inclined to return. (The ridiculous hype accompanying Neroni didn't help.)
The pork martini was definitely different. Some of the flavor combinations, like Haddock with pignoli and pickled figs, were out of the ordinary (again, *for Smith St*, not all of NYC). Also appreciated the use of local fresh ingredients and some of the weirder stuff that usually showed up on the specials like pigs feet. Compare that with the menu at say Patois, which is pretty standard bistro fare, or even one of the better places like Chestnut, and it was definitely more on the adventurous side.
I agree the hype was annoying.