Max in Tribeca - short review
dipped into Max's new location on a very rainy Tuesday night this week around 7pm and the place was kind empty. chatting with the bartender while waiting for friends, he said they'd been open 4 months but not doing esp. well, since there isn't the foot traffic like at their original location, this new location being Duane Street and Greenwich. Coulda fooled me when 45 minutes later, every table was full; groups of 3 and 4, familes with kids and strollers, a larger group of 6, and all feeling quite festive on its two lofted floors.
we had between the three of us:
chicken liver pate crostini
a side of eggplant, sicilian-style?
a side of creamed spinach
a side of sauteed broccoli rabe
squid ink pasta w/ spicy shrimp sauce
lasagna in a mini-terrine
spaghetti w/ lamb ragu
which was, really, a lot of food, but we managed to put most of it away. all the veg and sides were quite good, and I think, a great addition to any meal. the eggplant was delicious, the broccoli rabe was great, the creamed spinach was very fresh, but I think the cream didn't really do anything (it was just poured on top, and not a true steakhouse-style creamed spinach). the fennel salad was nice, but boring (I prefer westville's preparation, but it's different of course), and the crostini were nice, but kinda weird, esp. since the toasted bread must have transferred all its heat to the pate; never had hot pate before, and won't have it again.
the black spaghetti was quite nice, but you know, it doesn't really taste different, just has a stricking look. the shrimp, well-cooked and not huge, and actually quite spicy for italian food. very good. the spaghetti w/ lamb ragu was wonderful; served very hot, hearty, essence of lamb. both of the pastas were handmade and you could taste the sponginess and airiness of the pasta. the most obvious difference is the lack of liquid left in the bottom of the bowl, it was all absorbed into the pasta itself. the lasagna was a major disappointment; not firm enough by any means, each bite/scoop tasted only of bechamel and meat sauce. the flavor was there, but the texture was a total mush, which was unfortunate.
they also serve a very stange tomato dressing in the middle of their olive oil for dipping, which was bad, in my opinion. flavorless and not sharp at all. but the olive oil was nice and fruity.
we had some mediocre wine choices (probably due to lack of knowledge, but also, a poor rec from our waiter) but it wasn't terrible and total bill came out to $140 between 3, which was very reasonable for the amount of food and drinks we had. a very pleasant experience and with their small menu (maybe 6 or 7 items per category, and only 4 or so) plus daily specials, it would make it very easy to go there again and again, and possibly fall into a groove. the room itself is quite small, but the bi-level setup is nice, and the bar area is actually quite big for the space, but with about 7 or 8 seats, you could have a great meal at the bar as well.
check the place out, a very reasonable and nice find for the neighborhood. next time, I'm headed to giogione, about 8 blocks north on greenwich.
I WARNED you about the lasagna, bigjeff! When I went to the one on Ave B about six months ago for a group dinner, I was debating ordering the lasagna, but when I tasted someone else's, I was glad I went with something else. The pasta was totally gummy and heavy. I don't think anyone who ordered it finished it. But then again, I'm not sure anyone finished their meal--the portions are quite hearty there (this is awesome considering how inexpensive the prices are too).
Echoing vinogirl212 and bigjeff, the spaghetti with lamb ragu is pretty darn good. The thick, flavorful sauce coats the strands of pasta perfectly. My friend ordered one of the specials that night--all I remember is that it was spaghetti with dollops of ricotta cheese, pesto?, and something else--and it was awesome. Rich, nutty, creamy. Though perhaps a little too rich for one person to eat straight through (we swapped bowls midway through).