Sometimes your reputation, even a positive one, can be your worst enemy. Natalie had raved about the atmosphere, prices and food and drink at Quartino, a neighbor and counterpart to Osteria via Stato. Following a similar "small plates" design and wines sold by the quarter (quartino), half and full liter, Quartino matches Osteria via Stato's prices and exceeds their ambiance. Where Stato had blaring techno music paired with faux rustic decor, Quartino had the simple but elegant atmosphere nailed down to their charming retro bathrooms.
However, this is where the praise ends and I haven't made it to the most important element — the food. We ordered a mezzo of Ruffino Orvieto Classico, which was fine. There were other options that looked interesting, but at double to price, we stuck with a solid, if predictable, stand-by. We ordered the bigoli with a "venetian duck ragú" and a quatro formaggio pizza. The bigoli, similar to pici in many ways, was a nice pasta, but the sauce was a real disappointment. In my opinion, they made a mother red sauce and threw in some duck at the end. The duck was not falling apart and the sauce didn't have that braised in flavor. This is a pretty shoddy way to make a sauce and by no means lives up to their "authentic" cred. Even worse was the pizza. The crust was thin but still doughy, nothing like real Italian pizzas. It had none of the nice charring on the bottom and was just blah. To top it off, they added the same bland, overly acidic red sauce to the quatro formaggi. I've had quite a few four cheese pizzas in my time and they never had a red sauce, maybe some garlic infused olive oil, but the cheese is supposed to be the star. Here, you could hardly distinguish between the cheeses. All in all, this was a spot-on interpretation of an "authentic" Chuck-E-Cheese pizza — definitely not what I expected.
Quartino could be great. Natalie has seen them be great. I hope they get there. But I won't be back and I suggest you don't go either if you're looking for anything more than a glass of wine.