Il Matto, named for the Italian phrase "mad man," might be better called La Pazza, or "madwoman" for its whimsy-meets-scientist bartender, Christina Bini (pictured above). "Oh my God!" Bini exclaimed, smacking her hand against her head so adorably it forgave the 15 minutes that had elapsed between drink order and her realization of having forgotten it. The mistake was erased from memory when a martini glass was slid over, at the bottom of which rested a luminous Ligurian ocean rock marinated in vermouth, its aromatic seepage mingled with gin and salty terroir. The simplest of Bini's garnishes, rock and stone martinis might be appreciated by the more classic cocktail drinker, but are upstaged when foamy, vegetable bouquets bloom over glass lips, "ooohs" coming out of glossy Tribeca lips seeking semi-molecular exploits. Within wildly upholstered pod banquettes, concoctions of brandy, ricotta cheese and berries (the Pasolini) are delivered looking like classed up DQ parfaits. Morning after treats like the Bloody Frida (in honor of Miss Kahlo) come topped with curry and tinged with Tequila and Thai spices. At the elevated bar, Italian native Bini doesn't speak much English and answers questions through random translators who have perched near her charismatically gesturing hands. She punctuates the air every so often with a glass clink to her patrons, and it's clear when after tasting some fanciful recipe, she happily cries, "Oh my God!" she's quite at home in the madness of her laboratory.
281 Church St.
Photo via the New York Times