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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays: Scarpetta

Tasty Tuesdays started roughly about two weeks ago. Amy requested someone to go to dinner with and Chris, a friend from spin, graciously accepted along with Jen and myself. What have we gotten ourselves into? The answer... some of the best food in Manhattan. Literally!

Two weeks ago we had a delicious meal at Lure in SoHo and last night we went to Scarpetta.  After such a hard day and being physically and mentally exhausted from Sadie, I almost didn't go. But, I decided it would be better if I was out with friends than home alone. 



Am I glad I went or what? I think Scarpetta might have been one of the best meals I have ever had. From the bread basket to the dessert, I was in HEAVEN. 

We sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of wine and chatted until Amy arrived. Once she arrived, Chris, who didn't even have to look at the menu, ordered our entire meal. The first thing they brought out was the bread basket. There were four different kinds of breads. My favorite, which was so good we had to ask for a second round, was the amazing smoked mozzarella and salami stromboli. 



This bread basket has apparently won an award for best break basket in New York City. It was fantastic. Along with the four different breads, there are three different toppings to accompany them which are chunky eggplant caponata, citrus-infused olive oil and butter-mascarpone spread. It was to undiet for! 


Appetizers


The next dish that came out was two orders of RAW YELLOWTAIL olio di zenzero & baked sea salt. It was fantastic! The flavor of the salt on the fish just melted in your mouth. 

Our second appetizer of the night was the CREAMY POLENTA fricassee of truffed mushrooms. This dish might be my favorite dish ever. Honestly, I almost licked the bowl until I came to reality and realized how nice of a restaurant I was in. 




We also got a dish, compliments of the chef, which was the BRAISED SHORT RIBS OF BEEF vegetable & farro risotto. At this point during the meal I believe the entire restaurant was quite possibly annoyed with all of the "oh my gosh-es, mmmmm's and wow's" that were coming from our corner of the bar. 


We also had an order of the MOZZARELLA IN CAROZZA stewed baby tomatoes. Holy cow I didn't know mozzarella could taste so amazing. 



Main Course 

Finally it was time for our main course. Chris let's us know that it is going to be really simple. Just some homemade pasta with a tomato basil sauce which is the SPAGHETTI+ tomato & basil. 





It just so happens they put the recipe on their website. How convenient. I can't wait to try it myself some time. I guess this means I will have to have a dinner party! I'm excited! 




Chris thought we needed a second pasta dish as well so he also ordered which might have been the AGNOLOTTI DAL PLIN+ filled with mixed meat & fonduta, mushrooms & parmigiano, but I can't remember. I was too much in food heaven at the time to even care. I was just loving every second of every savory bite. But, it looked something along the lines of this. 




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Here is the rest of the main course menu that we ended up not ordering from. We didn't need to. You've seen what we've eaten. By this time we were entering food comas. 


Desserts

Of course Amy and I always have room for dessert. So, we picked three and got a side of petite cookies to share, compliments of our wonderful server! 



Jen picked the AMEDEI CHOCOLATE CAKE burnt orange-caramel gelato, espresso sauce. It is your basic, as most places call it, hot molten chocolate lava cake, but gourmet style with a side of the most amazing burnt orange-caramel gelato. The combination of flavors and the melt in your mouth hot and cold was unbelievable. 


Amy picked the CHOCOLATE & VANILLA PARFAIT hazelnut milkshake, biscotti. The combination of all three things was indescribable. I can't even explain how delicious the biscotti dipped in the parfait with a sip of the milkshake was. 


The dessert I chose is not on their website but it was White Chocolate goodness topped with fresh cut strawberries with a strawberry gelatin. It was the perfect dessert for me. I don't know how well I shared. But, Amy doesn't like white chocolate, so I didn't feel too bad. 

Decor

The architecture and interior design of the restaurant is beautiful. It is calm and contemporary yet elegant. The front cafe and bar area have a marble floor with wood paneled and painted walls.

The main dining area has beautiful wood floors with exposed wood beams and beautiful wrought iron chandeliers. The lighting throughout the restaurant was simple yet perfect. It really added a nice touch. 


I also love the glass panels on the back wall. There are multiple materials used in this back room which compliment each other well. The mixture of the light wood paneled walls with the dark frame which matches with the dark hardwood floor gives a great accent. 

The lighter leathers on the booths with the darker leather on the chairs also mixes in well with the space. The combination of the light and dark adds great contrast. 


It was beautiful outside and the sidewalk cafe was open and full. The restaurant is located basically on the corner of 14th Street and Ninth Avenue. So, the traffic is pretty busy and noisy but it is a great space where I would love to dine sometime. 



The bar wall has my favorite exposed brick walls with black wood display shelves. The bar top is a polished Carrara marble. This is the exact corner of the bar we were wined and dined at. 





I have already bragged about Scarpetta to so many of my friends. I just want to take them all there! I can't wait for my next visit! It makes me happy to share good food with good company. Emma, you and I are on! I can't wait! 


Here is an article from Time Out New York on Scarpetta! 

Time Out New York - Scarpetta




The restaurant takes its name from the Italian slang for sopping up sauce with your bread, and the generous bread basket is clearly designed with la scarpetta in mind. Among the four types there’s a delicious smoked mozzarella and salami stromboli, ideal for topping with the accompanying chunky eggplant caponata, citrus-infused olive oil and butter-mascarpone spread.
Starters offer a sort of greatest hits of Conant’s earlier work. A truffle-scented riff on sushi (spelled susci on the menu) featuring raw tuna slices rolled around brunoise carrots is an elegant holdover from his crudo-stocked menu at Alto. You’ll also find the butter-saturated polenta he once served at L’Impero, indulgent as ever with aromatic mixed wild mushrooms.
Conant, like Batali, rose to prominence on the shoulders of his ethereal pastas. At Scarpetta they still merit top billing. As stuffed pastas go, his plump, meaty duck and foie gras ravioli, slicked with a rich marsala-duck jus, are as gorgeous as you’re likely to find in New York. A close second: miniature ricotta-filled specimens topped with paper-thin slices of baby zucchini, petals from their wispy blossoms and a drizzle of briny anchovy-laced butter.
EntrĂ©es—mostly on the lusty, peasant end of the Italian food spectrum—are where Conant falters. Braised veal shank lacks the desired slow-cooked, falling-off-the-bone succulence. It’s served with a minimalist saffron-laced orzo that, unlike a more traditional risotto, isn’t rich enough to stand up to the meat. Capretto (goat), one of Conant’s more celebrated entrĂ©es at L’Impero, was among the most disappointing dishes I tried at Scarpetta. Instead of roasting it until golden as he’d done in the past, the chef braises the goat then offers it shredded—the leathery meat is tossed with green peas, lubricated with gelatinous drippings and then stacked in a messy heap, like a sloppy joe.
The rustic meat dishes I tried were all missing one thing: soul. As a chef, Conant may be more at home cooking in the upscale style he made his name on, rather than the Bold Italian (the title of his new cookbook) that he’s going for here. His delicate turbot, for instance, is a throwback to his best high-end cooking. The flaky fillets get an appropriately light touch, gently browned and served with a mild pickled-onion and parsley salsa verde and melt-in-your-mouth endives and leeks.
While Conant struggles to find a middle ground between upscale and homey, pastry chef Gary Minos, formerly of L’Impero, nails it. His apple “pie” features caramelized apples, brown-sugar streusel and a layer of apricot puree on an earthy polenta crust. An almost flourless warm chocolate cake, made with chocolate-of-the-moment Amedei from Tuscany, and served with chocolate-espresso sauce and burnt orange gelato, is so remarkably rich, only true choco-fiends will be able to finish it. Personally, I’d gladly skip it for an extra plate of those remarkable foie-stuffed ravioli, the dish at Scarpetta that ought to inspire the rest.

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