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An Enjoyable Meal at Scalini Fedeli (Longish)

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An Enjoyable Meal at Scalini Fedeli (Longish)

MDekay | May 22, 2004 01:25 AM

I dined earlier this week at Scalini Fedeli, which is in the old Bouley space on Duane Street. Indeed, memories of Bouley are immediately invoked by the boxes of apples in the entrance corridor. As best I can recall, the space is configured as it was in the Bouley days, but the decor, with a Tuscan feel, seems less cheery than it was (no flowers, for example), although it is still quite attractive.

We received a friendly welcome, and service was pleasant and fairly attentive throughout the meal. However, there were a few small lapses: bread plates were empty for quite a while before refills were offered; at one point we needed to ask for a refill of our water glasses; and when we asked our captain for his thoughts on the appetizers, he recommended the raviolo without mentioning that the amuse was also a raviolo, and somewhat similar, at that.

All of the breads and rolls (a raisin bread, a foccacia, an olive roll and a ciabatta-style roll) were at least decent, and the complimentary raviolo was rich and flavorful. The raviolo we ordered, with an egg yolk on the plate and sitting in a pool of melted truffle butter, was richer still, perhaps to excess. Our other appetizer, "pappardelle in a game sauce with venison and hare finished with Barolo wine and bitter chocolate," was competently cooked and gained some complexity from its various ingredients, but the meats had been minced so fine that they might have been anything.

One entree was a special of red snapper, which was okay, without being terribly interesting. The other entree, "braised short ribs of beef with a cherry pepper and natural glaze, fennel-apple puree and fried potatoes," was a good portion of beefy and extremely tender meat which was nicely complemented by the thick, rich and slightly sweet sauce.

Before the sweet course, we received an intermezzo of tart lemon sorbet and an unusually creamy and intense strawberry sorbet. One of the recommended desserts was a "praline and tiramisu tart" which sounded good but which tasted pretty ordinary to me, although I must confess that tiramisu is not high on my list of favorite desserts. Much more satisfactory was a flourless dark chocolate cake with a molten center, which was not unusual, but did not need to be, as it was a good example of how this dish should turn out. We concluded with a couple of jumbo strawberries in a mound of flavored whipped cream.

The lengthy and enticing prix fixe menu is $60, although a few dishes carry a supplement. The restaurant's website mentions a tasting menu and a game menu, but we were offered neither. I can't comment on the wine list, as we ordered wines by the glass. At $10 each, they seemed reasonably priced for a restaurant at this level. All in all, a pretty decent meal in comfortable and appealing surroundings, and fair value for the money.

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