Macelleria has three things going for it - location, location, location This is surely the only reason that it remains open even with several other steakhouses in the immediate vicinity -The Old Homestead, Craftsteak, STK and Frank. It popularity is surely not on the back on anything that emanates from the kitchen nor from the distracted, confused service one is provided. But because the restaurant finds itself smack in the middle of the one of NYC's trendiest neighborhoods it is popular by default, happily absorbing the over flow from the numerous other, far better restaurants in the area. It is too bad because the premise seems so appealing, a rustic Italian steakhouse, offering a blend of the traditional NY steakhouse and Italian American menus. An outstanding example of this formula can be found at Pietros, Macelleria unfortunately does not come close.
A Gorganzola and peppercorn lettuce wedge came with an embarrassingly stingy portion of cheese. To add insult to injury the dressing was overpoweringly flavored with peppercorns to the exclusion of all other flavors. The steak and side items faired no better. From the tepid, limp oily shoestring fries to the soupy and bland creamed spinach the sides disappointed. When the waiter delivered an extra order of roasted potatoes, the safest side item but still not a great one, no one at the table took any notice. However when he returned to retrieve them he needed to be advised that we had in fact eaten from the plate at which point he returned them once more to our table, apparently they were to be served to other patrons. Most restaurants would not have taken the potatoes back, then again most restaurants would have sent out the correct number of sides in the first place.
The decor seems like a tiresomely derivative, low budget version of Prime Meats, repleat with a white molded steers head and raw brick walls. Frankly for the price of the food one wishes that they had spent a little more on the decor. Peter Luger might get away with serving prime steaks at prime prices on rickety wooden tables but at least they generally deliver on the steak. The steak at Macelleria was utterly disappointing, completely lacking any semblance of the musky mineral rich tangy flavors of dry aging.
A T-bone ordered black and blue came out medium rare, its inside temperature so warm I could barely touch it. This is a fairly major transgression, but one that I seem to be encountering a lot lately. The replacement steak was rare enough on the inside but lacked external char and one side was barely cooked, this is the epitome of sloppy, lazy cooking. You might expect this kind of service at a diner but the steak here costs over $40, how hard is it to cook both sides? Apparently beyond the prowess of this kitchen.
The rib eye was no better. It to was devoid of the complex flavors associated with dry aging, it was also rather tough as well as being slightly over cooked. To be perfectly frank in terms of tenderness and flavor this was not what I would consider "Prime" beef, a term that is bandied about an awful lot these days.
Take away the location and Macelleria offers such a below average incarnation of an Italian American steakhouse that I can't see how it would survive in a more remote neighborhood. The drab room might be kitschy if it had been around for a few decades, the distracted wait staff might be tolerable if the steaks were up to par but there is little to recommend at Macelleria, save its avoidance.
(bet. Greenwich & Washington Sts.)