restaurants
Scarpetta
355 West 14th Street
212 691 0555

The deliciously cute Scott Connant (he turned over the fabulous L’Impero and Alto to Michael White) comes back with a great Italian comfort spot. Making the high end (obscure ingredients, complex flavours, a fancy room done by S Russell Groves) accessible, friendly and interesting is what Connant is known for and he does this to perfection here. A menu of Assagini which can be done in either tasting portions or appetiser sizes includes a smooth and crunchy ceci bean soup with sausage and cabbage; creamy polenta with fricassee of truffled mushrooms that’s almost soup- like itself; and a just- right braised short ribs over a farro risotto. There are mains, of course, a lovely roasted black cod with caramelized fennel and tomatoes or the tender roasted baby chicken with parsnip puree, liver sauce over early season veggies such as baby carrots – all delicious – but the winners are the pastas, fresh made in Scarpetta such as a satisfyingly chewy, doughy spaghetti with tomato and basil and a tagliatelle with lamb ragu (one of us didn’t even like lamb and loved this). But of all the things we had, the lick- the- plate clean item? The coconut and guava panna cotta. With a soupy texture over a ricey puddingish consistency, it was like a bit of Hawaii on a plate. So expect to see us outside on the sidewalk space having this dreamy concoction quite a lot.

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