Foul Witch opens in NYC by the Blanca Team
Our Restaurant of the Week is brought to you by the same team behind some of the city's most beloved restaurants.
A hole was left in NYC’s creative fine dining scene when Blanca closed during the pandemic. The tiny restaurant has been acclaimed for its take on Italian cuisine by both critics and consumers. It is brought to you by the same team that brought you Roberta's, a more casual, but equally beloved pizza joint.
Now, Foul Witch has taken its place. Originally conceived for the Frieze Art Festival in 2017, Foul Witch opened on Avenue A in the East Village on January 19 for a second run.
The restaurant is billed as a more casual interpretation of Blanca's tasting menu-only concept; expect the same level of elevated food and carefully curated wine list; but expect a more relaxed atmosphere.
There was no surprise in the move away from fine dining. As the Noma closure was announced and commentary mocked openly, The Menu movie opened up an industry once thought to be impenetrable to fresh criticism in recent years and even weeks. Despite the argument that the pandemic caused this, there is equally good evidence that it was just a catalyst for it.
A fresher take on fine dining is clearly needed in the restaurant world, even though white-tableclothed, multi-course menus will always have a place.
Known for his work at Roberta's and Blanca, Carl Mirachi's signature style will be carried over to Foul Witch's menu as well. Although Mirachi has achieved great success, he is self-taught and does not have any formal culinary training, instead relying on his Italian background to develop his culinary skills.
In spite of Mirachi being the official name on the menu, Sam Pollheimer will oversee the kitchen on a daily basis at Roberta's LA outpost. In addition to maintaining the high standard Mirachi has become famous for, Pollheimer will add the extra refinements that are expected of a Blanca rework as part of his collaboration with Mirachi.
Foul Witch offers a la carte meals, and the menu will change regularly based on seasonal availability, with a wood-burning oven serving as the focal point of the kitchen.
There will be a wider menu that continues the Italian culinary tradition: antipasto, primo, secondi, and dolce will be loosely followed. Various breads are baked in house and cured meats are included.
In true Italian style, primo focuses on pasta. Daily varieties include veal tortellini, braised goat garganelli, and spacatelli with aged game bird.
On a recent daily menu, a hefty Black Angus rib steak was on the menu, as was roast lamb with mint jelly as well as a selection of ice creams.
In its main dining room, Foul Witch has 50 seats, along with eight bar stools and an exclusive Chef's Table for more intimate occasions.
Designed by owner Brandon Hoy, the space is a mixture of rough-and-ready and refined elegance. The restaurant's heavy focus on wine is reflected in its rich color scheme, which includes burgundy and emerald green. There is a world of difference between the close-set seating and warm lighting that create a convivial atmosphere at these tables, as opposed to those medically spaced tables of the Covid era.