Once a meat warehouse in the now hip Meatpacking District, Macelleria offers rustic Italian fare and a wide selection of choice steaks and chops in the most popular neighborhood in NYC. The extended wine list offers hand-selected wines from all regions of Italy.

We went to Macelleria to celebrate a friend's birthday and we definitely went all out. As we walked into the restaurant, whose name means butcher shop in Italian, I got the sense of a formal but trendy restaurant. The dining room seemed warm with dark wood and brick. As we were taken to our table though, we headed downstairs to another dining room that reminded me of a wine cellar with stone walls and a few large tables. It was a little loud with the other tables full, but I really liked the space.

As for the food, it was even better than the space. We started with a "fresh bufala mozzarella." The cheese was delicious and soft and it was served with some of the best tomatoes I've ever had (and I generally don't like tomatoes). For my main dish I went with the pappardelle al cinghiale, a wide noodle pasta with wild boar sauce. The sauce was flavorful, but i couldn't tell it was boar versus another mainstream meat like ground beef. The dish was good, though maybe I should have gone with a steak, as the restaurant was voted the best steakhouse in New York by Citysearch last year.

Our friend Mark had the filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce. It was the largest filet I have ever seen, and it looked amazing. He described the sauce as spicy yet not overbearing.

V and Lauren ordered a special pasta, tagliatelli with porcini mushrooms. The one little taste I had was rich and delicious and V said the mushrooms were very fresh. Other dishes we ordered included eggplant baked with mozzarella and tomatoes. The bitter rind of the eggplant was a nice flavor in the dish and the meat of the eggplant wasn't mushy. The crispy roasted duck with orange sauce was kind of an Italian take on sweet-and-sour.

On top of all these dishes, we ordered a few sides: fried zucchini, shoestring fires, and grilled mushrooms. The mushrooms were very flavorful and almost steak-like. The zucchini was amazing, though I suppose just about anything fried is delicious.

Then to cap off the whole great meal, we ordered desserts and coffee. (Miraculously, V tried the cappuccino--and liked it!) The desserts were all a great cap to the meal - a fluffy and light New York cheesecake, a small but rich chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and a surprisingly delicious (my favorite) apple strudel with cinnamon ice cream.

All in all, this was just a great meal.The service was good, with a friendly waitstaff who were attentive to refilling drinks and keeping our table satisfied. The menu has a range of prices for dishes from a $16 pasta to their $86 porterhouse for two. The wine list has a lot of nice selections from Italy and a few other regions. I think I'll have to go back again for the steak! I definitely had a bite or two too much to eat, but it was worth it--and I'm very grateful to Mark for having a birthday and to Lauren for hosting the party!

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