“Very few people ever turn down the second bread basket,” said the waiter as he brought another. One reason is the caponata, a meltingly tender mix of eggplant and tomato that trades out the typical sweet touches for a subtle note of anchovies. Then there’s the butter, which is whipped with marscarpone and sprinkled with crunchy flakes of salt. Both are indicative of Scott Conant’s cooking: seemingly simple but brilliantly tweaked. Sommelier Jeffrey Tascarella’s wine list is similar: Among the usual suspects for an upscale Italian restaurant (many vintages of Aldo Conterno Barolo) hide unusual gems, like a rosé Prosecco from Collabrigo or an ‘03 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from Emidio Pepe. A perfect meal here could consist of a glass of wine and the fresh burrata with pickled eggplant eaten at the bar in the front room, or the full-on Italian treatment with a pasta course in the sleek dining room with the retractable roof. Either way, accept the bread: you’ll want it to fare la scarpetta, sop up the sauce left on the plate.
355 W. 14th St., (btw 8th & 9th Ave.), New York, NY
This story appears in the print issue of August 2010.
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