Posted by: Hungry Korean | August 4, 2008

Hello world! and……Scarpetta

This will be my first foray into the very saturated world of food blogging. After much pressing and prodding by my very close friends and family, I have finally started my very own food blog: The Hungry Korean. I will be unable to post pictures taken a la me until I purchase the perfect camera to capture the essence of every dish, every morsel and every bite but in the meantime, I have scoured what pictures I can find on the Internet with proper credit being given. Food is visual as well as taste so I really believe pictures need to be incorporated into a food blog.

I welcome you to read my site and the various restaurants visited; the culinary experiences of the Hungry Korean. As most who know me are well aware, I eat out often, attempt to try every new restaurant, if possible, and possess a very adventurous palate, so you can expect to see this blog to be updated regularly. Below, my very first post on this blog: Scarpetta.

Cin cin! Cheers!

Scarpetta: 3 stars (by Bruni of the NY Times)

Chef: Scott Conant formerly of L’Impero and Alto.

Every morning, bleary eyed and with my trusty cup of joe in hand, I settle before my computer at work and proceed to go through my work emails. When all that is done, I gradually wake myself up by reading the various food blogs I visit on a daily basis. They fill me in with the current state of existing restaurants, those restaurants in the works, but most importantly those that are noteworthy and worth the hype. One of those restaurants was Scarpetta.

Gale Greene was the first critic’s review of Scarpetta that I stumbled upon. She piqued my interest with this one particular pasta dish: seafood calamarata pasta with uni (sea urchin roe). I am a HUGE fan of sea urchin. To me….it’s the foie gras of the sea. It’s creamy and briny and slightly sweet all at once and simply melts onto your tongue upon contact. Her review made me “aware” of Scarpetta. Suddenly there was buzz. Lots of buzz and I knew I had to try it.

I made reservations for 8:30 on a Thursday night about 3-4 weeks in advance and luckily before Bruni from the Times gave it three stars and everyone in the tri state area ran to get a reservation.

I have a thing I do before hitting any restaurant for the first time. I read every review on that restaurant I can find on the Internet so that I may order everything my hearts desired and only choose those dishes I know to be excellent. Afterall, as everyone in New York knows, you never know when you might score another reservation at a very popular (but also delicious) restaurant. I made sure to do my homework on this place!

The restaurant is absolutely beautiful. You walk in and immediately notice the high vaulted ceilings. It’s sleek and long and simply elegant. My friend and I were seated in the back room which has a skylight. Since the sun had already gone down, there was no natural light but the restaurant was lit beautifully and the glassed ceiling only added to the feeling of airiness in the room. It has been said that this restaurant had awful acoustics and I will tell you, the place can get very loud. I strained to hear my companion speak.

taken from newyorkmag.com

image taken from newyorkmag.com

The service is very much like any other fine dining restaurant. The servers are attentive and switch your various plates with every meal along with the table ware. But let’s get to the good part: the food.

The bread basket is great. You get a choice of three but the one that stood out the most is the one with proscuitto rolled into it. YUM! Salty and mealy on the inside, crispy bread on the outside. Three condiments accompany the bread basket: whipped marscarpone cheese and butter, an eggplant tapanade (my favorite) and excellent olive oil that had a very light fruity and lemony aftertaste.

We started with three appetizers. The creamy polenta had heavy cream and butter folded into it. The corn grains were so fine I wouldn’t have known it was polenta in a blind taste test. It was creamy and rich and decadent and very viscous. On the side came a side of mushrooms in gravy which is then poured over the polenta and eaten together. The muted buttery creaminess of the polenta combined with the earthy, more grounded flavors of the mushroom were a perfect marriage.

image taken from newyork.seriouseats.com

image taken from newyork.seriouseats.com

We also had the appetizer of spare ribs. The portion is in fact very small. Four small slices of meat are presented on top of a beefy flavored farro risotto. The risotto i was not insane about but let me tell you the spare ribs were perfectly cooked. Slightly pink and glazed, each slice fell apart at the touch of my fork and knife. The meat was as rich and deep in flavor as it appears in color. I had read that the spare ribs were a must have with the polenta and truly, just as the mushroom gravy complemented the polenta, the spare ribs did the same thing but with an added and different textural experience. I wanted a whole plate of the spare ribs.

image taken from newyork.seriouseats.com

image taken from newyork.seriouseats.com

To cut the heaviness of the other two appetizers, we then had the scallop crudo app. The scallop is raw, cubed and presented with avocados and bits of citrus (i think it was grapefruit). There was just the right amount of acid to bring out the sweetness in the scallop as the avocados brought out the soft texture of the scallop. Scallops were so sweet and tender that it was hard to discern which was an avocado and which was a scallop in your mouth. It was all light and airy and tasted of the sea.

For main courses, I ordered one of Conant’s signature pasta dish from Alto: agnolotti dal plin, that is little pasta pouches stuffed with ground pork and veal and melted fontina cheese in a sort of butter (or olive oil) and parmesan based sauce. Those tiny purses melt in your mouth upon contact. The filling is VERY light with a similar consistency of whipped cream cheese…not as heavy and thick as you would think. The outer pasta surrounding the filling was not doughy at all but the perfect thickness to complement the light creamy filling within. I couldn’t stop popping them in my mouth! I will go back just to have this dish again it was so excellent. I CLEANED that plate.

image taken from newyork.seriouseats.com

image taken from newyork.seriouseats.com

My friend ordered the calamarata pasta with seafood. Calamarata is essentially round fat pasta that looks very much like calamari. The seafood in the dish was mussles, clams, shrimp and apparently uni (although i didn’t see chunks of uni — supposedly it had melted into the sauce along with the panko breadcrumbs that were apparently in there). This dish was definitely my least favorite of all dishes we had. It was oversalted and lacked any creativity….it didn’t have the “oooo ahhhh” factor the other dishes had. It was just very similar to any sort of oil based seafood pasta dish found in any other italian restaurant. My friend and I ended up picking out the bits of seafood and left most of the pasta.

Bonus: accidentally, the waiter brought us Conant’s famous spaghetti pomodoro earlier instead of my agnolotti. As a true mark of a fine restaurant, we received the plate for free as it was a kitchen mistake. We were grinning from gluttonous joy since we both had eyed the dish on the menu but opted to pick more “interesting” dishes. The pasta itself is pretty simple. It’s al dente spaghetti tossed in fresh tomato sauce and basil. It was VERY good which was surprising since one would think such a dish would not be so difficult to mimic. Something about that sauce: whether the tomatoes were sweeter than any I’ve tasted or perhaps it was the olive oil used but the flavors were very vibrant and fresh — esp compared to the briny and salty calamarata dish and the more rich and creamy agnolotti. So simple but SO good. My friend gobbled most of that down as I was preoccupied with the agnolotti 🙂

image taken from newyorkseriouseats.com

image taken from newyorkseriouseats.com

We washed this all down with a bottle of rose prosecco (forgive me but i forget the name of the bottle).

No dessert. We couldn’t possibly. Besides, I should forwarn my readers, I don’t have much in the way of a sweet tooth so desserts might be a rare presence on this blog 🙂

We rolled out of there stuffed.
For those that care, I noted that celebrities are clearly hitting the restaurant so try and get there before the buzz gets even stronger.

The night was absolutely delicious and in my opinion, totally worth the hype. Three stars it deserves.

Scarpetta, 355 W.14th Street, New York, NY

Advertisements

Responses

  1. congrats on starting your blog!

  2. I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!!! This is my new favorite blog in the entire world!!!! Oh THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU MY HUNGRY KOREAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. OMG, you are the best and hungriest Korean I’ve ever met. Great Blog!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m going to look forward to every entry you make.
    Cheers and Buen Provecho!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: