Trudging through the cold wind-whipped rain is worth it once you've arrived at Bar Tano (457 3rd Avenue at 9th Street, 718-499-3400), a warm & cozy respite from the industrial stretch of 3rd Avenue, near the train trestle spanning the Gowanus canal. They've even got a drink (one among many) called Flats Fixed, a nod to the business across the street, in addition to a good selection of wines and beers. We settled into a corner table and soaked up the place. Old tin ceiling and walls, a beautiful wood & etched glass dividing wall between dining area and bar, and low lighting creating a warm amber glow. Since it was so cold outside, we started with some Butternut Squash soup from the Specials Menu.
It was wonderful. So flavorful and unadulterated. Just a few drops of olive oil and a small sprinkle of fresh basil. We also got two Bruschetta to split. One Baccalá Mantecato (whipped salt cod) and one Fichi (goat cheese & fig spread).
The Baccalá was strong and slightly fishy, but grew on me and ended up being a hearty, savory appetizer. The Fichi was delicious. The tart creamy goat cheese complemented the subtle sweetness of the fig spread. We also split a Spinaci e Pinoli salad made with baby spinach, arugula, fennel, dried figs, toasted pine nuts & balsamic reduction. It was lovely with fresh greens, crunchy fennel and chewy fig tossed in a full-bodied dressing cleansed the palate and got us ready for our pasta entree.
We ordered a special Rigatoni with Smoked Mozzarella and Eggplant in a marinara sauce. The intensity of the smoked cheese was tempered by the earthy eggplant and the sauce was good and simple - not sweet nor complicated.
I'm happy to report that Bar Tano lived up to everything good I had heard. I look forward to my next visit there.