When we went to Rome a few years ago my family's favorite pasta was cacio e pepe. Having heard that the chef at Butcherblock was from Rome I emailed asking if they would make the dish when we visited. Got a positive response. The first visit was a Sunday and we were disappointed that it was Chef Filippo's day off. We did not even mention the off-menu request. Had a great meal. All was great, especially the grilled octopus appetizer. Even found a nice, and very reasonable bottle of Primativo, our Roman wine of choice. Server was one of Chef Filippos daughters, so we were treated to some fun family history and stories. Our second visit we got to enjoy the cacio e pepe, pasta, oil, garlic, a hint of lemon (maybe) and of course the pepper. Was as good or better than any we had in Rome. We also enjoyed a pasta dish with sausage and truffle oil which my daughter proclaimed as the best thing she's ever tasted. Saw that they change the menu seasonally, always a good sign. Chef Filippo stopped by a few times to make sure we were happy. All in all it has the makings of becoming one of my favorite spots.
Went to Butcher Block last night. Place was about 1/4 full. My girlfriend and I had the sweetbreads appetizer, which was the best sweetbreads I've had to date. Soft, velvety texture, with a light herbal seasoning (listed as cacciatore style...it had subtle notes of rosemary, and something briny also, kinda caper-ish). It was excellent. I could have eaten a bowl full.
She had the gnocchi, served in a bolognese bechamel. It looked excellent, and she loved it (I was going to ask for a bite, but she loves gnocchi, and was especially enraptured with those...).
Usually, I'm not a fan of ordering pasta dishes that tend to be well known - amatriciana, puttanesca, arrabiata, etc. - mainly because I'm usually disappointed by confused and muddled flavors. It's hard to find excellent examples of those dishes. On a hunch, I had the bucatini all' amatriciana. I'm glad I did - the dish was excellent. The pasta itself was fantastic - cooked to al dente perfection. The texture and flavor of the pasta - unsauced - had all of the qualities that makes a great pasta. The sauce was a clinic in what a sauce should be - individually, you could taste all the ingredients, and they all tasted excellent. The guanciale had a great smoky-porky flavor, the tomatoes tasted like, well, concentrated tomatoes, and the pecorino romano had a great flavor. Together, it was a symphony. The flavors balanced and worked together.
Overall, it was an excellent meal. We'll be back - again and again.
Thanks for the idea! We were looking for something new tonight so we gave it a try.
Our first two courses were wonderful; both specials. The first prosciutto, salami and these fried pillow bread things (gnooco frito?). The prosciutto especially was lovely. Then we split the pasta with venison and truffle. YUM. My husband's short ribs were good, not to die for. I had an appetizer for dinner: the tuna tartar. It was a bit salty for my taste but fresh and light, which was exactly what I wanted. We were surprised the "by the glass" wine choices were limited with not much Italian. The California cabernet my DH had was good. The bottle list looked more comprehensive.
For dessert my husband had the chocolate panna cotta. He enjoyed it and didn't have to share it with me, since it is not my thing, at all. Coffee was acceptable, but not fabulous.
There have been lots of posts about bad service, but ours was fine--cheerful, helpful, fairly timely. We had reservations for 7:15 and were seated almost to the minute.
The place is nothing special to look at, and I was a bit put off when I had to wander out the back door to the bathroom (which was clean, however.) Price -wise, it seemed to fall in the mid zone. Pasta's in the mid teens, secondi in the low 20's.
We will definitely go back, but I don't know if would become a totally regular stop.
I love this restaurant and I can't believe it doesn't get more Chowhound recognition. I've also tried the grilled octopus, which was incredible. Especially loved the pastas, the short ribs and even the Caesar salad seemed so much better than other versions I've had. Only regret is that we've always been so full that we couldn't squeeze in dessert.