By David Porat
Raw fish is popular beyond Japanese sushi, and in fact, has a somewhat Italian identity—sometimes referred to as “crudo” in Italian. In Puglia and Sicily, raw fish is popular. Steak Tartare, originally French, also takes on a more international identity and crosses over to seafood with tuna and salmon.
At Tfor—a brand new restaurant at 14 Bedford Street (near 6th Avenue)—the “T” stands for both Tommaso Roncari, the owner, and Tartare, a focus of the menu.
Mr. Roncari previously owned a restaurant at the same location, Da Tommy Osteria, which now occupies a small storefront in a quieter part of the Village. The new look is contemporary and has an attractive, northern Italian feel. Roncari brought two Italian chefs to help re-work the place with a focus on raw fish, meat, and accompaniments. Tfor’s menu and impressive website both reflect the elegant look of the restaurant.
We allowed the restaurant to help select some of what we tasted to start, and were impressed by many of the “raw” options. We enjoyed the Tuna Tartare, combined with full-flavored mango, which provided a clean, fresh, and pleasantly sweet taste, as well as the Salmon Tartare, which included avocado, salmon roe, and lime; it had a California accent about it. We also had Mediterranean Shrimp Tartare, which was made from Sicilian red shrimp and Swordfish Carpaccio. We followed that with Beef Tartare and Beef Carpaccio; both were mild and clean, and did not overwhelm the flavor of the red meat.
“Mains” include, primarily, a short list of pastas. We had the Tonnarelli with Pistachios and Prawns and the Lobster Paccheri; both involved generous portions and were richly prepared. I thought they both could have benefited from a bit of a lighter touch with the sauce, although the lobster sauce had a true lobster flavor.
The restaurant also prides itself on its “mixologism,” which here involves both the cocktails and the wine. We drank some of the Franciacorta, a sparkling wine made close to Milan—they proudly have five styles on the list. We especially enjoyed the Rosé, which was dry and supple and paired well with the fish.
The dishes are not inexpensive, but good fish—often flown in from the Mediterranean—does cost you. Service was attentive and had a polished Italian flair.
Tfor is Mr. Roncari’s passion—it is both “how he likes to eat” and reflects his take on contemporary Italian dining.