Any opinions on Scalinatella ? (NT)
- Mike Catucci (Sandman)
I eat at Scalinatella about three or four times a year and was most recently there this past Sunday evening. The restaurant is pricey and it is very easy to spend $65 per person. However, the restaurant is worth every penny. The space is a grotto like atmosphere, below street level with stone lined walls. As you enter there is a large table with fresh tomatos, a whole prosciutto, large green olives and Parmagiano-Regiano. Another table holds an array of fresh berries. The food is a mix of northern and southern Italian dishes with a wide selection of pastas, seafood, meat and chicken. The menu is fairly standard fare, yet every evening the waitstaff will run through a detailed list of upwards of fifteen different specials. After running through the specials, the waiters will hand you the menu and say that in addition to the specials and the menu the kitchen will make you anything you want. They sincerely mean it. If you cannot decide on a dish, the waiters will ask you what types of ingredients you like and they will work through a variety of options. Service is one of the great things at Scalinatella, the waiters are professional, friendly, without being overly so, and will work to meet your every need.
A nice way to start is with a plate of olves, Parmagian and Prosciutto. One of the keys to Scalinattella is the extremely high quality of the ingrediants. All of the pastas I have had there were extremely good and have run the list of any pasta dish you can think of. One evenings special of pasta and mushrooms in a veal reduction had an incredible depth of flavor. This past Sunday evening I had asked if the kitchen could do a pasta puttanesca, which was delicious. All the pastas are finished in a pan in the dining room. Rack of lamb is often on menu and is extremely well prepared. While mozzerella and tomato is very standard, the quality of the cheese is exceptional. Two appetizers that I would not choose are the artichokes pan fried in the roman Jewish style and the rollotini. The artichokes are not well fried and lack the good garlic flavour this dish should have(one of the best renditions of this dish is at Via Oreto on 61st and First). The rollotini, eggplant wrapped around ricotta cheese and served with tomato sauce also suffers from a lack of flavor. One other complaint I have is with the wine list. There are only two wines under $45 and the exclusively Italian list (except for one California) does not hold any of the interesting wines that have recently become available from that country. In particular some of the excellent southern Italian wines that are available at restaurants like Peasant and Lupa. Scalinatella charges a $20 corking fee should you choose to bring your own bottle.
Desserts are basic Italian selections, a plate of fresh berries are a nice choice.
At Scalinatella you will eat very well, be treated very well and leave Scalinatella feeling very good.
re: Mike Catucci (Sandman)
In response to the email you sent me, first let me congratulate you on your wife's birthday. Scallinatella is perfect for the picky eater. I cannot remember the last time there were any organ meats on the menu (although I certainly would love to see some) and squid ink pasta is as exotic as the menu gets. The food is very straight forward, solid Italian fare.
The room is a bit dark but not overly so, enough to make it cozy and romantic. I would not describe Scalinatella as quiet but it is not too noisy either. I have never experienced a problem hearing someone at my table. The tables are fairly well spaced although the room is not very large. If I am dining for two, when I make a reservation I make a point of saying that I do not want to sit at the table near the kitchen. The one bad table is situated at the mouth of the kitchen and the bottom of the stairwell which leads to the coat room and restrooms. There is far too much trafic at that table.
It is a casual atmosphere at the restaurant. You would be as comfertable showing up in a suit as you would in a pair of pants and a sweater. The crowd is usualy made up of both dressed and casual diners.
Parking in the street in that area can be tough, but there is a garage next door and across the street.
You will certainly enjoy yorselves. I would make a point of mentioning to your waiter or whoever you make a reservation with, that it is your wife's birthday. They will make a point of taking care of you.
Insofar as specific dishes, I would simply suggest trying the many nightly specials which change frequently enough that it is hard to steer you towards any specific one. The pastas are great, I have had a delicious rack of lamb and lamb chops and very good fish prepared in a multitude of ways. If you are eating on a Sunday evening then I would, as I do at all restaurants, not order fish, as it will not be fresh. The waiters will be very helpful in steering you towards what is good that evening. With regard to price, I would imagine you would spend in total around $130 for two.
You will truly enjoy yourself, I am eager to hear how it all goes.
re: Eddie Bennet
I appreciate the time you took for answering the questions. I've asked alot of questions from some of you here over the last few months and I'm finally decided and really looking forward to Scalinatella. I'll be sure to post here how it went, as well as lunch the next day at Union Square Cafe.
I haven't been in a while, but my few experiences there were magnificent. I LOVE Scalinatella. The food, atmosphere, and service have always been excellent in my experience.