Classic Westerns and Nashville honky tonks have provided inspiration for Spaghetti Tavern, a new laid-back bar and eatery from Jason Scott and Robert Marchetti.
“Why is there no spaghetti in a spaghetti western?” asked friends and restaurateurs Jason Scott and Robert Marchetti during a lockdown-era Zoom chat. The collaborators couldn’t get this idea out of their head, and started to form a vision for a new bar and restaurant: a honkey-tonk style haunt lifted from a Sergio Leone classic that serves spaghetti.
Given the Tavern’s name, the main event is the namesake dish. Here, it’s handmade from 100% durum wheat semolina (gluten free options are available) and cooked using a method that’s more common in chef Marchetti’s native Australia: after the pasta is boiled, it’s combined with ingredients in a paper bag that’s baked in the oven. Traditionally known as al cartoccio, this process packs the flavors into each serving and provides an aromatic puff of steam when the diner tears into the pouch.
The selection includes classic pomodoro (tomato, basil, parmigiana), calabrese (spicy sausage, tomato and ricotta), and traditional cacio e pepe. There’s also unique dishes such as the walnut and roasted-pine pesto, the Spaghetti “alla Gino” that’s drenched in beef gravy and chili or the playfully named spaghetti smoked salmon “‘80s-style” which is covered in garlic cream sauce and spinach.
Other menu offerings include calamari fritti with “dad’s tartar sauce”, arugula salad with fennel and ricotta salata and eggplant parm with basil and maraina.
All of this can be paired with a drinks selection that leans into the honkey tonk vibe. The bar, which features a line that divides the selection into north and south of the border, showcases North American spirits. Expect lots of American Whiskeys (including sips of hard to find Pappy Van Winkle’s) and tequilas, with old fashioneds, negronis, margaritas and espresso martinis offered on draft.
As NYC bounces back from the pandemic, Scott and Marcetti predict diners will want high quality bites without the fuss, so the tavern keeps the vibe casual while offering its signature dish alongside other Italian-influenced bites. Taxidermy lines the walls and a large moose sculpture greets guests from the top of the restaurant’s outdoor dining options. Guests can sip their whiskey or tequila to classic country tunes, with bluegrass and live country bands performing on the weekends.
“We want folks to have fun, so we went with an almost cheesy honky-tonk feel, but surrounded it with a quality product,” said Scott. The space has been a tavern since the 1920s, and the duo kept many of the original elements so it has a lived in feel from day one. It also channels a traditional tavern vibe with daily happy hour specials – expect $3 beers, $5 wines and $10 cocktails. Weekend brunch features bottomless mimosas, and the entire menu is available for takeaway and delivery.
“We love country music, spaghetti and whiskey,” said Scott. “And as New York emerges from this strange time, we think this comforting combination is really going to hit the spot.”
Spaghetti Tavern’s saloon doors are now open 425 Amsterdam Ave, between 81st and 82nd Streets.