Uni pasta and razor clams in NYC
Hey guys, I need your help. I'm headed to NYC next week and am searching for uni pasta and razor clams, neither of which are available in the CA Bay Area where I live. Which restaurants would you recommend? I prefer roasted clams to raw, but would be happy with either. As for the pasta, I'm looking for something that's light on the butter and cream and heavy on the uni. Thanks so much!
search the board for threads about Esca on West 43rd Street - i'm pretty sure they serve *both* dishes!
I would look to (some of) the top Italian restaurants in NYC for sea urchin pasta. They tend to also use crab meat, as its sweetness tempers and complements the richness of sea urchin well. The following suggestions all use fresh, house-made pasta:
Marea - Spaghetti with sea urchin, crab, tomato and basil
Convivio - Malloreddus, Sardinian saffron gnocchetti with sea urchin, crab, and tomato
Esca - Maccheroni alla Chittara with sea urchin and crab
The Esca version is simpler and heavy on the sea urchin. Both the Marea and Convivio versions feature tomatoes prominently; while the sea urchin is more subdued, the sauces are incredibly well balanced and vibrant, and the breadcrumbs sprinkled on top of the pastas add a nice textural contrast. You will probably prefer the Esca maccheroni given your request.
However, the single best sea urchin pasta in NYC is at Le Bernardin, which has a linguine dish in a obscenely rich sea urchin and butter sauce, topped with a generous heap of Osetra caviar. Unfortunately, it is an off-menu item and carries a very hefty supplement (like in the neighborhood of $100).
I've tried the Uni Pasta at Scarpetta, Convivio, Alto, Marea, and A Voce Columbus - my blog has pics and longwinded descriptions of each but I'd rank them as follows:
Scarpetta (more creamy and nuanced) = A Voce (more citrus/buttery) > Alto (spicy, but nice) > Convivio (good, and gnochetti are awesome) > Marea (far too heavy handed with spices and tomato)
Esca's version is lovely, and better than Scarpetta's, which is very light on the uni and also too garlicky. I'm sure you have plenty of fine Japanese restaurants in your area, but you might also consider Soba-Koh, which serves a cold soba with uni and ikura that may suit you as well. No butter, no cream!