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May 30, 2007 08:27 AM

Scalino - new Ital. place in Park Slope

A few days ago, a place called Scalino opened on 7th Avenue, at the corner of 10th Street.

I haven't eaten there yet, but the menu looks good: classic Italian dishes like antipasto, veal meatballs, white beans and sausage, arugula salads, pappardelle w/ tomato cream and smoked bacon, braised lamb shank with lentils, etc.

At this point, it is cash only and BYOB. Open daily 5:00 - 11:00 p.m.

I will report back whenever I have a chance to try it!

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  1. Red Hot Szechuan used to be there before they moved across the street several years ago. Then it was some other mediocre Asian place that never was busy. Now it's Scalino. Haven't eaten there yet but have walked by it a couple of times. It looks really unfinished. I'm all for spare, spartan decor but this just looks like they haven't finished renovations. But since they're open, presumably they have. I'll probably try it soon.

    7 Replies
    1. re: angelhair

      I had dinner at Scalino this evening. I have high hopes for this place. One of the owners, Matthew,--I think he said that it is him & his brother--was running the show and waiting on all of the tables. He was friendly and chatted about adding things to the space and the menu over time. They are waiting for their wine/beer license so it is byob for now (a good thing imo!).

      I thoroughly enjoyed the food. My companion began with the Antipasto Toscano (prosciutto, salame & parmigiano) and I with the Sauteed Baby Artichokes. We followed with Paglia E Fieno Con Sugo (fresh thin pasta w/ meat sauce) and Pappardelle W/ Tomato Cream & Smoked Bacon respectively. It was all prepared with quality ingredients, executed well, and delicious!

      The feel is comfortable & unpretentious. I look forward to dining there often especially since it is right around the corner.

      1. re: maggiepc

        No disrespect to this restaurant, which sounds promising, but can I just take this opportunity to wonder why "Toscano" is considered to be such a compelling adjective that it is applied to things that are not Tuscan in the least? If the antipasto has real Italian prosciutto and parmigiano then, unless it's prosciutto di San Daniele, it's at least two-thirds "Antipasto Emiliano." Even if the salame is Tuscan, it hardly makes sense.

        1. re: EZ Pass

          it's all marketing. most people aren't going to think about what specifically is "toscano" about the antipasto.

          1. re: funkymonkey

            Well, I think slightly less of a restaurant that considers marketing more important than accuracy. I think diners are willing to learn, if restaurants are willing to teach.

      2. re: angelhair

        FYI: The mediocre Asian place was called "Taste of Fish."
        Probably one of the worst things you could ever think of to call a restaurant. I never ate there simply because of its name.

        1. re: Gnu23

          there was a good dim sum place that was very short-lived that i can't remember the name of, but was somehow connected with R.H.S.

          1. re: Gnu23

            My wife and I always used to joke about what a bad name "A Taste of Fish" was for ANY restaurant, let alone a SUSHI place.

            Before A Taste of Fish, it had a japanese sounding name -- I want to say it was something like Aji Aji or something like that -- we ate there a few times and it was decent. However, once they changed names we stopped going. I was never even sure if the owners or management changed -- it seemed like this Aji place simply changed names to A Taste of Fish (which, we always imagined was what the original name meant in japanese), but we just couldn't eat there on principle.

            If I recall correctly, I think it was a chinese place before being Aji/Taste of Fish.

        2. I was just at the wine store, and the guys there said it was actually quite good. A couple of them have eaten there and liked it; one actually recommended it when I said I didn't know what to have for dinner tonight.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bebevonbernstein

            We ate there last night and I'd give it a mixed review. On the plus side, the owner is really enthusiastic and friendly (and as noted was completely handling the room himself..and doing it quite well, considering they were packed.) The menu is simple trattoria style and reasonably priced. My husband really enjoyed his polpetti appetizer and I thought it was good (but not nearly as good as Frankie's meatballs--the gold standard in my book.) He also enjoyed the Paglia E Fieno Con Sugo. My arugula and parmigiano salad was fine, but my pasta--penne with broccoli rabe and sausage--was way over-oily--just swimming in oil--and the sausage wasn't that tasty. A friend had the sauteed artichokes which were actually artichokes romana (more fried than sauteed) and she found them too greasy as well.

            Also they had only one dessert right now. Hopefully they will add more--how hard is it to have gelato or a tartufo? (Ok, I'm one of those dessert people, a meal just isn't finished without dessert. :)

            So I think the food needs a little work but, its promising, and the hospitality of the owner--he just seems like a really nice guy-- speaks for a lot! We'll try it again in a few weeks and see how its shaken out.

            1. re: jinx

              how can i even consider the above review helpful or legitimate...not nearly as good as frankies????? please, there are not even in the same ballpark...i found them inedible and the sauce was a step above ragu..

              i think the owners are trying hard but they need to give the place some character and also consider hiring a legit chef/cook. i can cook you a better meal than you can get at this joint. in fact, any serious foodie could do more justice to italian food than scalino. sorry for being harsh, but it is the sad truth.

              1. re: cdog

                It's at the bottom of my list for sure. See my other recent post on Scalino.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. i'm willing to get it another shot as it is one block away from my house, but your comment about critcism being suspect is a bit off. i just don't think the food is good...
              any committed home cook can do better...
              i don't think that every place needs to be on par with al di la..i am not using that as the measuring stick..i look at each place and judge them on their merits and this one just doesn't cut it....

              1. I have to agree, Stefano, with everything you said: I've eaten there about seven times since they've opened (full meals on every occasion), and it's definitely become my "default" place in the slope. Of course this is partly because of the price (extremely reasonable) and because it’s still BYO, but also it's because the food is healthy, delicious, and simple. At this point I've tasted almost the entire menu and many of the specials (which change fairly often), including all of the desserts (there are at least four).

                Of course, there have been some missteps: The specials are a bit uneven. If you stick to the regular menu, and to the pastas in particular, I don't really think you can go wrong.

                The beauty of this place is its simplicity, from the food to the décor and service. If you're someone who needs complicated fare in order to feel as though you're getting your $'s worth, this is not the place for you (if you can cook as well as these guys can, open a place next door: You'll be full every night, like they are). For me, though, the unapologetic simplicity and excellent flavors in their arugula with parmesan salad is emblematic of the entire menu. I tried a more complex special last month (tortellini in a spicy red sauce with lobster) and was pretty disappointed-- however, the fact that the owner (and our waiter) made a point of asking me how it was, and if it was too hot, said volumes.

                The service is tremendous, end of story. Anyone who thinks otherwise must have had some rotten luck, I think (or done something to tick off the more portly owner, who is the only one of the two I could ever envision being brusque with a customer). I've brought wine and beer every time I've gone, and I've never had to ask for a glass or an opener: I just put the bottle(s) on the table and wait a few seconds, no matter how busy they are. The very first time I was there, he noticed the table was wobbly: He stopped in his tracks, got down on the ground (we were outside), and adjusted the table legs until it was rock solid. I've never felt so well taken care of at a place that only costs around $20pp for a full meal.

                After reading all these posts, I definitely think the rough patches some people seem to have experienced were merely growing pains. Every time I’ve gone, they’ve changed the menu (as they figure out which creations work and which don’t). If you want the self-assured qualities of a restaurant that’s been around for years… I’d suggest not going to a spot that’s just opened.

                The decor is a bit spartan, but neat and comfortable. It's definitely relaxed, and feels like a place you could comfortably eat at every day of the week, which I think is unusual in a very good way. Since it's on the corner and has huge windows on both sides, a fantastic open feeling is created: Sit facing the street if you're indoors. Unfortunately, the outdoor seating is definitely superior at this point-- it's a shame it'll be too cold soon; it'll be much harder to get a seat.

              2. just discovered this place (another post)...liked it a lot and plan on going back very soon - we ate at frankies this weekend- which was mentioned as a comparative in this thread.....well the food was good hour before we got our salad - another hour before we had our entree - total non-service - we had to beg for our check (another 1/2 hour) - sad when a place gets so popular that they really could care less whether you exist.

                5 Replies
                1. re: realfood

                  being BYOB gives this place the edge. we've had a few (successful) wine dinners there recently.

                  1. re: TBird

                    i told my wife tonight that we should give it one more chance...we ate their twice and i just don't see the appeal. everything we had was no better than anything your average home cook could pull off. yes, it is cheap and yes the service is good, but i am not sure that i would choose price and service over the quality of the food. i said it in an earlier post and will say it again, if they are still serving penne with rapini and sausage and the sausage is being served in the casing, that is just wrong. on my last visit, the meatballs were as soft as a rock.
                    i will go within the next week or so for my third trip and report back.

                    went to franny's tonight............................oh my...............price was through the roof but it was amazing..............

                    1. re: cdog

                      i think it's ok not to like scalino, it's definately nothing to blow your mind, and no need to "give it another chance", espicially after two attempts already. it is what it is. it more than serves it's purpose for me with it's byob free policy, but because i have a 8-12 person group that meets for wine dinners and they(he) is more than accomodating for us.

                      what did you order at franny's that made the prices thru the roof? i get the pizza there that is the same price as any other place, only the pizza is much better!

                      1. re: TBird

                        Franny: i am not big on just eating pizza so we made sure we added some other treats. i would agree that the pizza price is not bad especially if you stick to the basics. three glasses of wine, two pizzas, two appet. one dessert, one coffee and a tip got us to $96.

                        Scalino: twice should be enough, but i am committing to one more as it has been a few months since we went. i want to see if they changed anything to improve on my previous experience.

                        1. re: cdog

                          As I have pointed out -- the prices at Franny's only seem excessive when you think of it as just "pizza". Yes, a slice can be had most anywhere for about $2. But just as a $.99 hamburger at Wendy's is much less expensive that an $8.00 burger at Bonnie's Grill, that is not a fair comparison.

                          You have to compare the pizza you have at Frannys with an entree at a restaurant. With that thinking, 3 glasses of wine ($8 to $12 a piece usually = $24 minimum), two apps ($7 to $11 usually = $14 minimum), one dessert ($6-9 usually = $6 minimum), and one coffee ($2.50 or thereabouts). So that brings the cost of the meal before tip and two pizzas to $46.50 -- roughly $50 after tax or $58-$60 after tax and tip. That leaves $36 for two entrees (which happen to be utterly delicious pizzas) plus tax and tip on said entrees, making the pre-tax and tip cost of the entrees at about $15-$16. That is not at all out of line...certainly not "through the roof".

                          Once you can change the paradigm so that you are not thinking in terms of "pizza", but in terms of an entree like any other, the prices at Franny's really make perfect sense.

                2. I go to Scalino at least three times a month now and I was curious to find out what the reviews were... and boy was I surprised to see negative comments at all! I have yet to have a negative experience there - so far its appeal lies in its unpretentious atmosphere, great view through the windows, simple but great ingredients and the outgoing owner. I always get the Bufala mozarella which just melts in one's mouth and somehow always end up with the Oxtail (served on a bed of polenta), which I didnt even see mentioned in the previous posts. There are both simply delicious. The place is still BYOB and has a few killer desserts (highly recommend La Bomba which is three sorbets covered in white chocolate and the Mandarin sorbet which is served in an actual mandarin!) I def think it is worth every penny of its very reasonable prices (prices equal Dizzy's but offer a more upscale dining experience).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: manhatanite

                    Visited Scalino for the first time this week and was underwhelmed.
                    On the plus side: the owners/hosts are warm, hard-working and eager to please, if not a bit hard on their busboy in front of customers.
                    We found the price/quality/quantity factor to be lacking: appetizers and salads range from $8-10 for what is, essentially, four bites. Specifically, the artichoke appetizer (literally four bites) and the yellow beet salad (perhaps three or four small chunks of beet, amounting to a half a beet). Pastas were unspectacular and at least two members of our party commented on how much butter or oil was used.
                    BYO is a plus. Didn't have desserts. Went home and had dinner.
                    Would certainly return if there would be more generous servings for the money.