This rustic Roman-style eatery with exposed brick walls and naked beams is open to the sky with its large skylight that welcomes in the daylight or suffuses the evening with the low glow of lights from surrounding homes or a glowing moon.
Although less than a year old, Emporio attracts a lively 30-something crowd for meeting and eating at Emporio's long wooden tables family style. The space is tight, and the conversations are lively. One could almost expect guests at various tables to intermingle, and perhaps they do.
Emporio is casual and upscale. Part-owner and chef Riccardo Buitoni clearly prides himself in his work (his partners are Elena Fabiani and Gaspare Villa). Each dish stands out in this rustic environment like young lovers, naked on a bed of straw. Salmon, surrounded by swirls of leeks, beets, and radishes. California oysters exposed on ice crystals, roasted octopus embracing soft potatoes, slices of thin-crust pizza, a la Romana, dressed in a light tomato sauce with a necklace of basil.
The service is impeccable and I would say that Emporio needs to be experienced both with the lunchtime daylight bathing its guests as well as the evening glow of Manhattan backyards and neighborhood kitchens illuminating the dark. Look a little higher and perhaps the moon or stars will peak through tall buildings. I will be returning to Emporio for its energy, its fine food, and the warm hospitality that you are sure to experience.
231 Mott Street, New York, NY