Welcome to Marc Forgione. Well, not literally, but the chef and restaurateur’s new spot, One Fifth, is meant to be an approximation of what someone might experience while visiting the Forgione house.
“The whole concept was kind of based on… the way we eat when we’re at home when we get the family together,” he told me as he sat in the restaurant’s bar during a a pre-opening party for friends and family. . “We don’t really hang out in the living room and watch the game. We’re all types of cooks and chefs, and we hang out in the kitchen/dining room. And we continue to make food.
To that end, One Fifth’s menu of Italian dishes is meant to be shared, with a selection of cicchetti and antipasti, house pasta, Roman-style pinas, and a few larger meat and fish dishes. Many plates source their ingredients from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket, like the slightly tangy Mozzarella Tonjes that accompanies an eggplant caponata. The pasta, while delicious, also serves as a bit of a spectacle: Forgione had the pasta-making station installed in the front room, so diners could watch the chefs prepare both the fresh extruded pasta (like rigatoni with red peppers, in which the juice from the peppers gives the pasta a nice reddish hue) and hand-rolled pasta (like Silky Pork Belly Ravioli with Bottarga, one of my personal favorites).
The pina, an ancient grain flatbread similar to pizza, is a particular highlight. Forgione worked on the recipe with his father, legendary chef Larry Forgione (An American Place), and it’s been in the works for about six years, young Forgione said. At One Fifth, their pina takes classic toppings such as garlic, parmesan, pecorino and ricotta or even cherry tomatoes, burrata and basil. But it also stands up to more elaborate accoutrements, with a clam, ‘nduja, potato and gremolata version remaining crispy but surprisingly creamy in flavor.
The food is accompanied by a strong beverage program led by Scott Woltz, who works with Forgione at his other two restaurants, Peasant and Restaurant Marc Forgione. Here, American and Italian producers make up the bulk of the wine list, and each week the restaurant offers unique reserve bottles, which it displays in a beautiful wooden case behind the reception stand. Cocktails lean towards the lighter side, with a number of gin options, and to underscore the restaurant’s Italian bent, amaro is offered in all 20 distinct regions of the country.
One Fifth is a family affair in more ways than one, and Forgione wanted that feeling to translate into the ambiance of the restaurant. It’s a very cozy and welcoming space, and walking through the dining rooms really does feel like walking through someone’s home, with deep wood paneling and photographs lining the walls.
By the way, these photos and other artwork all mean something: The One Fifth location is pretty historic, and Forgione and his team wanted to be a “space steward,” as one put it. of its partners, Sabato Sagaria. me. In its past lives, the restaurant was frequented by New York stars such as Robert Mapplethorpe and the former Saturday Night Live crew, and chefs like Anthony Bourdain have spent time in the kitchen. The new restaurant’s decor helps tell that story, with plenty of vintage finds from the building’s longtime superintendent.
Now, with One Fifth open from Tuesday, Forgione and his team hope to add to that story, creating new memories to mix with those of the restaurant’s iconic setting. “I’m the luckiest chef in town,” Forgione said. “It’s like a dream.”
Click here to see all the photos from One Fifth.