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Scarpetta Review


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Scarpetta Review

ChemWork | | Sep 10, 2009 10:48 AM

I'm finally getting around to posting some reviews from a trip in June. Thanks to all of the helpful reviews and advice from Manhattan Chowhounds. I'm an organic chemistry professor and used to grading so I've given a grade to all of the courses. I can assure you that my students don't often do this well. My friend and I arrived at 8 pm for our reservation at that time and we were promptly seated. Almost all of the tables were filled. The dining room had a nice decor and a pleasant buzz. The glass ceiling was a nice touch and the light was perfect at that time of the day. The room was moderately loud, but we had no problems communicating with each other or the staff. We already had drinks at Spice Market (complex, tasty, but small) nearby so we turned down cocktails. The menu (available online) seemed to be the perfect length and had many interesting dishes in all categories. It was quite difficult to make decisions, but we received some nice help from the staff. Our main server and the sommelier were particularly helpful in picking a moderately priced rosé for us to match our diverse food selections. There were some very nice varieties of bread to start, although neither of us ate a lot of bread, especially when we had four courses to eat. The citrus dipping oil was great, but the red pepper spread and mascarpone butter were just OK. I started with the tuna susci (pronounced "sushi") with marinated vegetables and preserved truffles. It was basically raw tuna wrapped around various vegetables with mushrooms on the side and fresh herbs on top. The taste and texture were outstanding. There was a very nice combination of flavors and the portion was larger than I expected. I grade the dish an A-. My friend had the creamy polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms. This dish was one of the highlights. Visually it was very appealing--the polenta was in one white porcelain bowl and the mushrooms in a separate small metal pot. The polenta was luscious and tasted so elegant when combined with the mushrooms. My friend likened it to eating a mushroom dessert. That dish was an A+. My friend followed the polenta with the agnolotti dal plin filled with mixed meat. This dish looked very simple, but the taste was excellent and the pasta perfectly cooked (A-). I had the ravioli with duck and foie gras and a marsala reduction. It was hard to decide between this dish and the polenta for the best of the evening. The ravioli were perfectly cooked and the duck flavor was intense. The foie was not overwhelming and really added a slight richness to the duck and seemed to extend its flavor. The marsala reduction leant a nice counterpoint to the richness of the duck/foie (A+). Once again, the portion sizes for both pasta dishes were generous. The rosé complimented the pasta dishes extremely well and also did a good job with the starters. It was less good for the final courses, but we weren't complaining. We both ordered fish with my friend having the black cod with caramelized fennel and concentrated tomato. I had the turbot with caramelized endive, leeks, onions & salsa verde. Neither fish dish rose to the level of the previous dishes (B+ for both). The fish were perfectly cooked and most of the flavors were nice, if not a little muted. The concentrated tomato was very bold. One of the reasons we went with fish was that we thought we would be stuffed from the first courses. I had strongly considered the goat and my friend was interested in the porkchop--perhaps next time. Both desserts were excellent. My friend had the amedei chocolate cake with burnt orange-caramel gelato, and espresso sauce. The cake had a nice texture and an intense chocolate flavor, complemented well by the gelato and sauce. I had the special rhubarb dessert with these elaborate cookie rings, filo layers, pineapple gelato, pineapple gelee, and vanilla risotto. The contrasts in textures and flavors were delightful. It was one of those dishes where it's fun to get a little bit of every ingredient to get the full effect. Both desserts were an A. The service throughout the evening was uniformly excellent. The head server stopped by several times to check on us and the sommelier made sure that we were enjoying the wine. We only had one bottle, and the staff did a very good job of spacing it out over the three savory courses. We thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere. It seemed like most of the people were enjoying themselves around us. We definitely recommend the restaurant and will try to get back someday.