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Scarpetta on Friday Night...just ehhhhh

So I call Scarpetta on Friday morning to see if they have availability for 2 people that evening. They did. At 8:30. Little weird for such a "hot spot" I thought. So we show up and are seated right away. The space is beautiful and I loved the benches around the perimeter of the room. The bread and dippings served before the meal were just delicious. My wife had the polenta to start and I had the braised short ribs. Both incredible. That's where the good impressions left us. Maybe it was just our waiter, but service was not very good or helpful. We had a few questions about the menu and asked for recomendations. He seemed just as perplexed as we were. I ordered a glass of wine that tasted like it was sitting for days. Whatever. Then there was an unuaually long wait between the appetizers and entree. I like a wait between the two courses, but this was so long, I was starting to get tired. Then the entrees show up and I have to say...just not good. At all. I had the Capretta(goat) and my wife had the beef sirloin. The Capretta was dry and gamey and the sirloin was tasteless. On top of that, which I though was weird, both dishes were prepared exactly the same. Same exact sauces, same exact garnishing, just one had goat and one had sirloin. Thought I'd see more creativity.

One observation that I must make is, and this isn't meant to be rude at all...the crowd at Scarpetta. I just thought in the MPD, on a Friday night, there might be a little different feel to it. I guess with all the recent reviews and hype, the Foodie's were out in full force. Haha, you could hear from a few tables over, "do you taste that? mmmm, ohhh, there's a hint of...hint of what is it? Paprika!" Made for good people watching. Then, seriously, it's been a long time since I've shared a room with so many elderly folks. Not that there's anything wrong with that at all. I love having dinner with my Grandfather when he's up from Florida, I really do. The guy's a little sparkplug. However, it just felt unbelievably similar to what one might find during an early bird special in Boca. I was seriously expecting someone to roll in with one of those oxygen tanks. Whatever, the 92 year old guy next to us ended up taking down a huge scotch and a glass of wine in about 3 minutes and was hysterical.

Bottom line: I'd give it another shot. Maybe on a Saturday night.

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  1. We have not been to Scarpetta, but we ate at L'Impero while Scott Conant was there and had the capretto. It is a gamey meat, and I had no problem with that. However, like you, I found it much too dry. I've had capretto at one other restaurant (Vetri, in Philadelphia), and it was juicier. So, it would appear the problem with Conant's capretto is that he over-cooks it. Btw, it is one of his signature dishes, the other being the polenta and mushrooms. We had that as well at L'Impero, and it was to die for!

    1. If you can, I would strongly suggest you go on a weeknight. Weekends tend to attract a, shall we say, less sophisticated clientele at "hot" restaurants, and I think the staff reacts to this by not performing up to the level they should. The cooking may be careless too. If you read Anthony Bourdain's book, Kitchen Confidential, he pretty much spells this out. The capretto I had was not dry, but I was not as impressed with it as I had thought I would be. l have had better goat. Definitely go back and try some more dishes. For the most part they are excellent.

      6 Replies
      1. re: rrems

        Thanks rrems. I think I will go back during the week and try more dishes.

        1. re: rrems

          "I think the staff reacts to this by not performing up to the level they should. The cooking may be careless too"

          That's a crappy excuse...A place that is trying to live up to a standard like Scarpetta's pricepoint suggests, their cooking should be good for whoever - whenever. The garbage places Bourdain cooked in a million years ago, this attitude makes sense. It is unacceptable for Scarpetta.

          1. re: Cpalms

            I agree, but it is an unfortunate truth about many restaurants, and a reason why I tend to go to simpler places when I am in the city on a weekend.

            1. re: rrems

              I've eaten there twice on Saturday evenings (early, because I am too old to stay up late) and, while I may not be sophisticated, found the food to be terrific, and not a hint of carelessness.
              I'd add that I agree with RGR- I never liked the capretto at L'Impero, and haven't wanted to try it at Scarpetta. I'd highly recommend the pasta dishes for a second course.

              1. re: David W

                Sorry, David. I did not mean that everyone who dines out on Saturday is unsophisticated. Glad to hear you had a good meal.

                1. re: rrems

                  No need for that-
                  I'd also point out that both times I was there on Saturday I saw Scott Conant prowling the room-so I don't think the staff is slacking off.
                  I'm not sure it really qualified as a "hot spot"-it's gotten a lot of press from the food quarter, but it's hardly a trendy nightspot. And I don't think he's trying to be too creative, but is making some basic dishes really well.

        2. Just got back from a trip to NYC, and Scarpetta was going to be one of our "highlight" dinners. Wow, what a disappointment! Service ranged from ambivalent to rude across the board. First, they didn't have our reservation, but were still able to accommodate us. 15 minutes later, our friend who made the reservation gets a call on her cell phone asking her if she's planning to come to the restaurant for dinner! No apology for their mix-up. The waiter kept "barging" into our conversation, i.e. he wouldn't come to the table and get our attention before speaking, but would blurt out whatever he had to say upon arriving at the table. When taking our orders, he turned and stood with his back facing us for a while as we asked about some of the dishes. When we asked for parmesan cheese for the spaghetti w/tomato/basil (excellent) only 2 of the 3 diners who had it were offered cheese. Some water glasses were filled while others were left empty. It's been a long time since we've had service this bad, and I don't think I've ever experienced from 5 or 6 people at the same restaurant...maybe the occasional bad waiter, but here it was across the board.

          As for the food, the pastas were definitely the highlight. The goat was hard and dry, and the sauce was way too salty. Desserts were eh at best.

          Such a shame, ate at L'Impero several times and enjoyed the food and service. No plans to return to Scarpetta at this point. Also, we went on a Wednesday night (Scott Conant was there), and were surprised that the place wasn't buzzing and full. For a place that just got 3 stars in the NYT I assumed there would be more buzz. Even when we left, there were empty tables.

          On the flip side, had a good meal at Babbo, and a great one at A&D.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rcinsf

            i must agree.. i heard excellent things about scarpetta. while i thought the food was good, and the cocktails were decent, the staff at the door, bar and the servers were less than mediocre.

          2. My partner and I had dinner there again last night. Service was flawless, very attentive. The noise level was relatively low (most of the clientele was on the older side this time). Outstanding dishes were the polenta with mushrooms and the veal loin with sweetbreads. The pork chop was good but lacking any fat or marbling, so unfortunately not as moist and tender as it could have been. The peach crostata was a very good dessert. My only complaint about the restaurant is that they don't offer half orders of pasta, which I would like to be able to have as a first course.

            5 Replies
            1. re: rrems

              We ate there last Friday night. Service was truly flawless. Food was refreshingly well prepared and presented. No half orders of pasta? Not a problem because they happily split an order for the two of us.
              Wine was perfectly to our specs and served at the right temperature finally.
              I'm looking forward to out next visit.

              1. re: il Trifulau

                Yes, I realize they will split a pasta order, but my partner wanted something else, so I had no one to split it with.

              2. re: rrems

                rrems,

                I don't see the pork chop or veal loin on the menupages menu. Have they added some seasonal dishes?

                If so, please tell me the Mozzarella en Carorozza and the Spaghetti with tomato and basil are still on the menu!

                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                  Yes, the menupages menu is not up to date. The menu does have occasional changes, but those 2 dishes are still on the current menu.

                  1. re: rrems

                    This may be a better place to look (except for the price of each dish-I hate it when they leave that off...it's like they know they are charging too much.)
                    http://www.scarpettanyc.com/menus.html

              3. I was a great fan of L'Impero so was eager to try this place. Sorry to say, I haven't been so disappointed in a restaurant in years. Part of it was truth in advertising: a "roasted beet and La Tur" salad should have been called a "Frisee and roasted beet salad" there was probably no more than 1/2 a teaspoon of cheese on the plate. One of my favorites at L'Impero was black pasta frutti di mare which was chock full of tiny sea urchins so when I saw "black pasta with sea urchin" on the menu I thought "even better." But the dish was 90% mussels; I could find only 2 tiny sea urchins on the plate. This might be understandable for a place trying to keep prices down during these hard times. But if I'm paying pre-recession prices I expect pre-recession ingredients. The baby goat was even more of a disaster. It was delivered to the table inedibly salty and cold. Also, the waiters seemed obsessed with clearing the table even when we clearly hadn't finished our dishes I wish I could recommend this place but the only recommendation I can make is "stay away."

                1. I have only one thing to say: Scarpetta RULES!