Scott Conant’s Scarpetta Delivers Incredible Dining on Both Coasts
Scott Conant Rocks my world – and has since I first met him at The Taste in LA last year. Check out how flustered he made me on the Red Carpet there!
I’ve been lucky to enjoy several dinners at his Scarpetta in Beverly Hills, each a memorable occasion. So when I knew I was going to NY, a visit to the Homeland, his flagship, had to be set.
As with ABC Kitchen and ma peche, the overall dining experience (including the food) blew me away. In general, the dining atmosphere in NY seems a bit more manageable – especially in terms of noise levels. Tables are a bit more spaced out and yelling at your dining companion in order to be heard seems a bit less needed than in LA. Apparently, the LA Times has also noticed this issue in LA, asking the question, “How noisy are restaurants?”, pointing out that “In many cases, we’re all dining with the equivalent of a lawn mower next to us.” True that.
Oh, sorry, back from my rant … and back on track. While the overall hospitality levels everywhere in NY were fantastic, my blue ribbon goes to Scarpetta NY. Before I arrived, I had tweeted and Facebooked, hoping that Chef Scott could be there. Upon being seated, Manager Ben Kaplan stopped by to greet us, saying they were happy we were there and that, unfortunately, Scott couldn’t be there that night. Still, he assured us that they’d take good care of us … which they did in spades.
But first it began with the Il Bandito (Peperoncino-infused mescal, Cointreau, lime, pink & black lava salt). They say “Spicy Spicy” right next to the description on their menu and they aren’t kidding. I’m infatuated with the smoky mezcal these days much thanks to LA’s Freddy Smalls who has an ah-mazing “Westside Eastside” mescal-based, super spicy cocktail too. I have to say, as much as I love spice, ordering these types of drinks is a gamble. If they’re not perfectly balanced, watch out! Scarpetta’s was good but I could only handle a couple of sips before moving on to a lovely white.
Excited to be at the Homeland, we ordered quite a few dishes … which were then embellished with more dishes from the kitchen. Crazy! So, our first course(s) began …
Chilled English Pea Soup with Smoked Trout and Trout Roe – trout roe, really? Seriously, this soup was both refreshing and savory at the same time.
Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Asparagus, Toasted Garlic. Toasted Garlic = DeathbedFood.
Braised Short Ribs of Beef with Farro Risotto (on the house!) … a Conant Classic.
As the second course, Pasta. I was living a little dangerously on this one as I’ve been trying to eat gluten-free lately. But maybe it was seeing Risky Business in my formative years and hearing Miles telling Joel something like, “Every now and then you have to say ‘What the Heck?’” … or maybe it was Manager Ben tempting us, sharing that Scott’s Famous Spaghetti was rumored to be better in NY than in Beverly Hills (humbly adding, “Maybe the NY water?”). Regardless, exceptions had to be made.
So, how was it? Too close to call for me but definitely outstanding – maybe Scott’s most iconic dish.
We also ordered the Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli. Yes, this LA Foodie ordered Foie Gras. It’s not even so much that I love it. It’s more that now that it’s banned in California, I feel it’s important to get it when I can. DeathbedFood pasta for sure.
Next, they surprised us with Rabbit Agnolotti on the house. XOXO … honestly, hard to say which pasta was the best among the three. Put it another way, we easily polished off every morsel of all three pasta dishes.
Third course? Branzino – with White Asparagus, Pancetta and Morels. I’m a huge Branzino fan, compelled to order it whenever possible. Like the spaghetti, I’ve had this in BH too and, again, fantastic.
And desserts? Truthfully, I was hoping to order their Vanilla Caramel Budino which I’d had several times in Beverly Hills. It was, in fact, among my Top 8 DeathbedFood Desserts of 2011 and 100% DeathbedFood. Alas, we were told they don’t serve that anymore in NY but, instead, they strongly recommended their signature Amadei Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Gelato & Chocolate Butterscotch.
Whooooaaaa. Vanilla Caramel Budino who? This masterpiece made me practically forget my own name.
Then, on top of that, they brought out (compliments of the house!) “Strawberries and Cream” with Almond Pasticerria and a gorgeous plate of cookies. Even I, quite a Big Dog at meals, hit the wall. With the chocolate gone in a minute, the Strawberries and Cream soon after, the cookies then had no chance (but were appreciated later).
So, thank you Scott Conant for having Scarpetta NY take such good care of me. It’s definitely on my must-visit NYC list.