In 2014, Jody Williams of Buvette and Rita Sodi of I Sodi opened Via Carota, within a fava bean’s throw of their Greenwich Village restaurants. A homey spot on Grove Street, just off Seventh Avenue, Via Carota is about approaching fresh ingredients the Italian way: with care, warmth and lack of fuss.
Named for the street in Florence where Sodi once lived, and where the couple, now married, cemented their common love of Italian food, the restaurant brings the best of Italy to New York. Now, with the release of the restaurant’s cookbook, anyone who is interested in good food can pull up a chair.
Photographed on site in Via Carota’s rustic dining room, the recipes are arranged first by season, then by primary ingredient, with the emphasis on vegetables. “We rarely order what others consider a main course when we eat out,” Sodi writes. “We prefer a table full of vegetables…the triumphs of the season.” The restaurant’s popular shaved raw artichokes (Spring) are here, as are the Asparigi alla Fiorentina.
Via Carota is not a vegetarian cookbook, however. “Aia” (Fall) was the name for the farmyard where Sodi grew up, north of Florence, raising chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs and cows in addition to growing fruits and vegetables. Don’t miss the recipe for Braciole al Latte, pork chops cooked in milk. With fall waning and winter waiting in the wings, consider turning to the squash-and-radicchio risotto (Williams: “Every time I add white wine to a pan of rice and the puff of steam hits my face, the aroma sends me back to Reggio Emilia, learning how to make risotto. Sixteen bubbles together on the surface, they told me, and you know it’s ready to add the butter.”).
A Basics section at the end of the book gives recipes for some simple homemade staples including the couple’s famous Salmoriglio (lemon and garlic dressing). Interesting context for ingredients and dishes shows up throughout (e.g., that Risi e Bisi is from Venice, or that cucumbers and melons are closely related and can often be approached similarly in the kitchen). While the restaurant offers a well-curated list of regional Italian wines, the chefs are also well known for their Negroni variations, and they round out the book with aperitivi recipes. Pick up a copy and, as Williams and Sodi recommend, “Go into the kitchen with a curious mind.”
Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking from the Beloved Greenwich Village Restaurant, (Knopf, 2022, 416 pageS, $40)
This story appears in the print issue of Winter 2022.
Like what you read? Subscribe today.