REVIEW

Scarpetta

At L’Impero and later at Alto, Chef Scott Conant became known for his refined northern Italian cuisine in the old world style; at Scarpetta, a cavernous, high-energy restaurant in a Greek revival townhouse in the Gansevoort Market Historic District, he serves soulful, hearty fare in a relaxed setting.  Even the name of the restaurant hints at this rustic pivot: scarpetta means little shoe – the shape bread takes when used to soak up the last dregs of a dish. 

The inviting, earth-toned main dining room features a retractable roof used in cooperative weather and horizontal wood paneling.  At nighttime, the restaurant is dimly lit and, given its location, something of a scene.  Conant has resurrected some signature dishes from his L’Impero days, including a lush creamy polenta, a heavenly castle of heavy cream, butter and cheese that is served with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms.   There are excellent pastas:  a short rib and bone marrow agnolotti and an agnolotti dal plin filled with ground pork and melted fontina cheese in a buttery Parmigiano sauce.  But Conant’s most lauded dish is the spaghetti served with tomato and basil, from which he coaxes an undercurrent of complexity that belies the outward simplicity of the dish.  It is sweet, spicy, rich yet light, all elements in perfect balance.  You’ll want to make sure to have retained some of the excellent filone, ciabatta and focaccia from Scarpetta’s marvelous bread basket to soak up those last drops.

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INFORMATION

Chelsea
355 W. 14th St.
New York (nr. Ninth Ave.)
310-777-7572
Mon-Thu, 5:30pm-11pm; Fri-Sat, 5:30pm-midnight; Sun, 5:30pm-10:30pm
    Scott Conant, Chef
    Chris Wyman, Executive Chef

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