Agree completely with Davey. Our meal last night was very good, and service could not have been more friendly. Those of you put off by molecular gastronomy should not avoid this place, in spite of the menu descriptions or Sifton's review. This is no where near as "out there" as it sounds.
We started with the Parmesan creme brulee, mushroom salad and octopus. All 3 were quite good, my favorite being the creme brûlée. Next was the chicken with celery purée, beef filet with mushrooms, and sea scallops with black olives. Again, all 3 were good, but the winner was the beef, followed by the chicken. While good, I'd probably choose a pasta over the scallops next time.
Finally, dessert. Eggplant with white chocolate really was as good as Sifton describes, and not at all as weird as it sounds. The dessert creme brûlée was also good, as was the warm flourless chocolate cake. This last one was not a "revelation" or new twist, but when it tastes that good, who cares?
Overall, a very pleasant experience and one I will return to. As Sifton says, the space could be a little more comfortable (the circular banquettes are rather small), and I think his 2-star rating has more to do with the decor than the food. But it's one I would recommend you try.
We tried it the night of Sifton's review. We'd enjoyed Arqua in that spot for nearly 20 years, so we were sort of avoiding the new guys (Arqua owner has Petrarca across the street- still good, but different). Although Il Matto's menu sounds like it's trying to hard to be new and different, much of the food was very good to excellent, and we plan to return. The service was excellent as well. What with the oddball decor and weird sounding drinks and slightly too complicated sounding dishes with odd ingredient combinations we expected weird, but we were totally taken by the place. First Sifty reviewed place I've tried.
34 White St, New York, NY 10013
281 Church St, New York, NY 10013