Trattoria Dopo Teatro, the theater district classic, is celebrating the arrival of spring not just with their blossoming Secret Garden, but with the seasonal flavors of new Executive Chef, Alfredo Alvarez. The long-standing Italian favorite is dusting off winter to welcome its 16th year of operation with renewed panache: the Trattoria has only ripened and grown with age, yielding a new host of edible surprises set to please locals, theater-goers, and tourists alike for many more years to follow.
Owner and architect, Emilio Barletta and partner Giuseppe Manica created the exquisite Trattoria Dopo Teatro from an expansive, high-ceilinged 1878 landmark space. But the restaurant’s subterranean treasures make this charming spot even more compelling. Past the 24-foot antique oak bar, through the golden-hued dining room hung with vintage Italian film stills, and down the terra cotta stairway, lies the skylit Secret Garden, a permanent harbinger of spring in the least likely of places, and undoubtedly one of New York’s hidden treasures.
With the help of a brick oven towards the back of the main dining room—exposed for diners to see and bearing artfully composed thin crust pizzas—Alvarez whips out baskets of freshly baked bread, still warm as it arrives at the table. Inside, tomato foccacia and rosemary rolls wait to be dipped in what’s essentially a strained gremolata of olive oil, garlic and basil—a house signature that starts the meal off right.
An expansive selection of salads provides the option to eat lightly, but with ample flavor, as seen with the Burrata e Fave, a delicate composition of buttery ricotta and mozzarella with fresh-picked favas and cherry tomatoes. The gently handled ingredients shine in their simplicity, and attention to quality is immediately apparent. Similarly, tuna tarare brings about classic flavors with attention to detail, here plated in an artfully layered round with avocado, cucumber and caper berries. Where there is temptation to veer towards “too simple,” Alvarez surprises: there is careful balance and harmony on each plate, elevating the flavors from the familiar and making them engaging anew.
The Zuppetta di cozze e crostini makes for a substantial appetizer, a large bowl of New Zealand mussels cooked in a lemon-kissed tomato broth. Thick slabs of crusty, fire-toasted bread are speckled with a peppered crust, enriching the broth with an addictingly smooth hint of spice. So, too, is the Frittura di calamari, a perfectly crisp version of the classic dish with the added touch of green peppers and crispy lemon wedges, executed with confidence and panache. Here, it is evident that Trattoria strives for value and generosity with its patrons—something that has made it stand out for much of its existence.
125 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036