Fancy Italian Sandwiches Minus The Hype At Barbarini

It’s been mentioned twice now by profiled lunch’ers, but until a few weeks ago I had no idea the Barbarini empire existed. It’s on Front St. (nr. Beekman) off the main drag of South Street Seaport, on a nice little stretch of cobblestone street. One lunch’er recommended the spaghetti alla chitarra, while another mentioned the speck, taleggio and frisee sandwich. The little Barbarini empire exists in three forms: Mercato, Ristorante andAlimentari. The Mercato part sells Italian products, with a meat counter, and reminded me a lot of Despana. Make sure if you want anything to go, you go into the Alimentari entrance or you will look like a confused tourist. It was a sandwich I was after because although the homemade pastas sounded delicious, the cheapest one is $13 and I wasn’t prepared to eat spaghetti while sitting on a bench outside.

The sandwich selection reminded me of Salume up in Soho, which has been reviewed by nearly everyone except for me. I have actually eaten a sandwich there, but the prices are what have kept me from doing an actual review. They recently increased the size of the sandwiches, maybe realizing that this isn’t Italy, and also brought some of the prices down. Most of the sandwiches are still more than $10.

And that leads me to Barbarini, where you can get a similarly sized sandwich for $8.50 and you don’t have to hop on the subway (if you work in the FiDi) to get it. I ended up ordering a sandwich that had the same ingredients as the one I had eaten at Salume, which is $12.

After figuring out where to get food to go (they also have a small seating area with table service) I placed my order for the sandwich with bresaola, parmigiano and arugula.

It doesn’t look like a huge sandwich, which it’s not, but it has a lot of meat and parmigiano in there and filled me up even though I was starving.

My only beef with it is that they didn’t toast the bread at all, but I can live with that. It’s a pretty salty sandwich, too, so you might want to have a drink handy. If you’re a condiment person, the only thing on this is some olive oil and lemon juice on the arugula. I was OK with that, but there’s not a whole lot of moisture here.

If you’re ever craving this kind of quality Italian meats in non-hero form, this is a good option in the otherwise barren FiDi. And those pastas didn’t look too shabby either.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • It’s a classier kind of Italian sandwich than you find at the local pizza place.
  • The sandwiches are just the right size and I don’t feel like I need Maalox after eating one.

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • $8.50 for a smallish sandwich? Are you nuts?
  • I’m not going anywhere near the South Street Seaport for lunch.
  • I want pasta, but I’m not forking over more than $10 for it.

Barbarini Alimentari, 225 Front St., (212) 227-8890


1 Comment

  • Nice–I’ve been a fan of that strip since it’s opened up. Jack’s, etc.

    It’s good to hear it compares favorably to Salume, which I trekked to last week. For me, it’s kind of a wash distance-wise. (Subway v. hoofing thru tourists)

    That’s a lotta bresaola! It may have contributed to the saltiness. I had a speck sandwich, which was similarly savory.

    The pasta is pricey, but good. FiDi seems cursed with a neigborhood markup. My colleague had mussels and pasta, his tab came to about $18(!?!)

    May as well go to Locande Verde!

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