Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Before planning a special meal, especially in NYC, I do so much research I inevitably render myself into a state of analysis paralysis. I Chowhound, I blog, I Yelp and I cross-reference until even the most appetizing of options gets nixed. 

I really need a hobby.

Nevertheless, after my hopes for reservations at both Locanda Verde and Marea were squashed I decided to take a gamble on Scarpetta. I'm always reluctant of restaurants with multiple outposts (there's a Scarpetta in every city rappers rap about, or own property), but I was too frustrated to keep clicking.

Fast-forward two weeks.

My travel companion, Mother Plebe (MP), and I hopped in a cab and got dropped off at the corner of West 14th and Hudson St. Pirating the celestial light from the adjacent Apple store, I consulted my phone to get the exact address. The damn map showed it was on the corner! It was cold and my new shoes were pinching.

We finally found the place by sheer miracle. The entrance was so dimly-lit the only thing I could see clearly was the glaring B grade from the Department of Health posted in the window. I know the letter grading scheme is so sensitive that even a paperwork snafu could affect a restaurant's standing, but still. Eek.

We check in, give our coats to the hostess and shimmy over to the bar. It's so friggin' dark that I briefly lose my mother in the crowd. I use my phone to navigate the territory. Surprisingly, MP is less bothered than I am. All of a sudden she makes a spotting: Monica Lewinsky. Her hair totally gave her away. You'd think her layers would've grown out by now.

Image via camillesdish.com
Finally it's time to sit. We score a cozy table by the window replete with natural light and a banquette to spare our purses from the floor.

Naturally, we begin with a bread basket. I had read about the meat and cheese-infused bread, but never in my life did I imagine something so divine. Ironic, because to me it totally tasted like Bar Mitzvah hors d'oeuvres (the amazing kind). I was too entranced to take my own pic, but here is one I borrowed off the interwebs.

(Please excuse the less-than-stellar quality pics. I was too shy to use flash considering I would've likely blinded someone.)

Seared sea scallops - $19
I'm normally not wooed by scallops, but these were impressive. The two honkers, smothered in a sweet, almost honey-like sauce, were the perfect preview to the evening's meal.

Spaghetti with tomato and basil - $24
I should've trusted my gut, and the internet, on this one. This dish is supposed to be a Scarpetta staple, but I read a handful of reviews citing major "over-hypedness". Over-hyped, indeed! It's friggin' spaghetti and tomato sauce. Sure, it was tasty and satisfying, but for $24? The one thing I will say is that the sauce was really nice. I'm no tomato sauce aficionado, but this was sweet and coated the noodles evenly and generously. Nothing I hate more than those watery sauces with isolated glops of tomato.

Was I missing something here? If so, enlighten me. PS. Doesn't it totally look like a brain?

Black taglioni w/ seafood ragout
and basil bread crumbs - $28
MP loved this dish. I only managed to score a few bites, but from what I tasted it was
well balanced - not too seafood-y, not too creamy - and nicely complemented by the bread crumbs. I was also pleased to notice the generous chunks of seafood (for $28 they better be!) Although dwarfed by the giant bowls, both pasta dishes were fairly portioned.

Chocolate cake w/ salted caramel gelato
and chocolate butterscotch - $11
Oh, ma damn, I am still thinking about this dessert. I never really got the whole "salted" dessert bit until I tried Lindt's Fleur de Sel bar; what a novel concept. That being said, the real star of this dish was the salted caramel gelato. This was dead sea style salty, but it worked well - amazingly well, in fact. Coupled with the "this is soooo worth not fitting into my leather leggings" molten chocolate cake and the I'm-Skor's-younger-bitchier-cousin chocolate butterscotch, this was literally the perfect dessert. Except for the fact that I had to share it with MP. Lame.

Overall, our meal was lovely. Nothing awe-inspiring (except for that dessert), but solid, delicious food with super attentive service, to boot.

Price: Mother Plebe paid. Gd bless her.

Scarpetta NYC
355 West 14th Street
(212) 691-0555
Reservations are a good idea

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