When the Spotted Pig opened in 2004, it was a thunderous hit among Manhattan’s trendiest denizens. Meatpacking district revelers abandoned antiseptic clubs to crowd into a small pair of wood-plank rooms decorated with mismatched vintage fabrics, pig and mackerel mementos, and window box herbs. Even rail-thin starlets cheated on their diets with Roquefort-laden chargrilled burgers surrounded by thick tangles of shoestring fries. A collaboration between Mario Batali, A&R exec Ken Friedman and chef April Bloomfield, this Anglo-Italian gastropub swims against the tide of local hot spots and has won a loyal following among both boldface names and those who are so taken by its folksy-chic unpretentiousness that they don’t mind the two-hour wait. The bar is the ideal spot to imbibe a hand-pulled cask ale or nibble on old-school snacks like devils-on-horseback. In the larger back room space, a mirror scrawled with greenmarket-derived specials shows that the chef, trained at London’s famed Italian eatery River Café, hasn’t forgotten her roots. Gnudi is a continual favorite, and pot-roasted rabbit with spring garlic and fiddlehead ferns stays local despite finding its comfort-food inspiration across the pond. But if things get too heady, just look above the entrance, where a diminutive pig serves as a reminder to Hova and civilian alike: Check your pretensions at the door.
314 W. 11th St.(at Greenwich St.); 212-620-0393; thespottedpig.com