Monday, June 24, 2013

Scarpetta

A few weekends ago, I went into the city with my sister and we ate at Scott Conant's restaurant, Scarpetta. You may know Scott Conant from the Food Network television show, Chopped and/or Bravo's Top Chef. I think he's dreamy.

He's known for his Italian cuisine and pasta skills. Whenever he's a judge on Chopped and one of the contestants make a pasta dish, he's always the most critical, and rightly so, as you'll see when you scroll down this post.

Scarpetta is Scott's restaurant in Manhattan. It's located in the Meatpacking district (14th Street & Hudson, just before the streets turn from paved asphalt into cobblestone).

By the way: the little postcard came with the cheque.


The restaurant itself might be a bit hard to spot because it doesn't have the typical giant sign over the door.
The outdoor seating is cute and cozy, though, since it's Manhattan, it can be quite loud and cigarette smoky at times.
Here's a look at the drink menu:

Here are the "primi piatti" (translation: first plate) or appetizers::
And here are the pastas:
And here are the "piatti" (translation: plates) or main courses:
We were seated right next to the window, which was nice because the natural light meant the photos I was taking came out quite nicely.
And a shot of the rest of the space, which had a modern but homey feel to it.
And a shot of the table.
My sister got the bolla bacca, which was a strawberry flavored cocktail made with prosecco and tiny baby strawberries. It was refreshing and fruity and light; a perfect summery cocktail. The baby strawberries were cute and definitely made the cocktail look prettier but they didn't taste v. good.
I got the dimmi pesca, which was a peachy vodka-based drink. I could smell and taste the peach so I thought it was delicious. They placed a flower in the drink which made it look pretty, though you couldn't really see it until you got to the bottom of the glass.
And here we are drinking our cocktails.
To start, we were given a bread basket and three spreads to go with it: a fruity olive oil, a tomato and eggplant spread, and mascarpone cheese with butter. There was an assortment of breads, which was nice. They gave us a crusty rustic Italian bread, toasted focaccia, a salami & cheese stromboli, and round rolls.
For our first course, we had the crispy fritto misto, which was an amazing choice. It was kind of like calamari, except there was squid, shrimp, vegetables and lots of sage and rosemary. The breading on the seafood was light and nicely crisp. The fried herbs added a lot of flavor without overpowering the dish. Best of all, the portion size was quite generous.
Next, we had the black farfalle. My sister said it was the best pasta dish she ever had. I could almost claim the same thing, except that I've had pasta in Italy and that was an experience in and of itself. However, this was really amazing. Scarpetta makes all of its own pasta fresh. The texture of the noodles was perfectly chewy and the lobster was tender. The basil breadcrumbs added a lot of freshness to a dish and prevented it from feeling too heavy. If you have the chance to go to Scarpetta, I recommend you try this. The table next to us got the spaghetti which looked delicious too so I think ordering any of their pastas is a good choice.
For our main course, we had the red snapper. The fish was perfectly cooked and the skin was crispy and delicious. The tomato broth was poured onto the plate after the dish was set on our table and it was really flavorful with just the right amount of salt. The fish was set on top of fregola (which is kind of like an Italian Israeli couscous) which was mixed with olives and clams and mussels and crab. I liked the texture of the fregola, though I could've done without the black olives - but hey, I'm just not a fan of olives in general.
We debated whether or not to get dessert but we figured we might as well go all out.
We opted for the amadei chocolate cake, which was a gooey and rich flourless cake with a crisp exterior. It came with a salted caramel gelato. The gelato was so good. It was salty and sweet and smooth and refreshing and it complemented the cake so well and provided a nice contrast, both in temperature and taste.
Dinner at Scarpetta was one of my favorite dining experiences ever because of the food and because of the service. The staff were so kind and helpful and happy; they came to our table often enough but they didn't hover. Our water cups were constantly being refilled (which is one of the signs of impeccable service) and the food came out promptly and at the perfect temperature. If you have the chance, please go. It's a bit pricey but totally worth it.

Cheers.

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