There was a time when we were pretty impressed by Scarpetta. This was back when it was just a new-ish restaurant in the Meatpacking District with really good spaghetti and a three star review from the New York Times. This was also back when we were really impressed with ourselves for launching a website that 31 or so people cared about. So let’s say it was a different era. What we wouldn’t do to get some of those 31 people back.
In the time that’s passed since our initial Scarpetta review (May 2009), a lot has changed for both of us. Scarpetta has gone on to open four additional locations in the US and Canada, and their chef/owner Scott Conant has taken up residence in the living room (and dreams) of every middle aged housewife from New Jersey to Nebraska via his role as a television food judge on the show Chopped. We here at The Infatuation have expanded to one new city and my cholesterol is much higher. So we’ll call it a tie.
Unfortunately, only one of us is getting better with age, and here’s a hint for you: It’s me. Scarpetta is a much less impressive restaurant these days, with pretty bad service, pretty mediocre food, and a dining room full of people who may or may not think this is a Tyler Florence restaurant. Even that famous spaghetti dish has lost a bit of its luster. Meanwhile, I am slowly evolving into a Lebanese cross between George Clooney and this guy. Or at least that’s what the birthday card I got myself says.
At the end of the day, there are certainly still some things worth eating on this Scarpetta menu, and there are certainly worse places to eat in the Meatpacking District – but that’s not how we set the bar around here. If you want a sceney meal of pasta and wine, go to one of the 27 better options you have within walking distance. Or go back in time to when this place was in its heyday.
Spaghetti with Tomato & Basil
The dish that made Scarpetta and Scott Conant famous, and rightfully so. I’m not sure it’s still as good as it once was, but it’s still better than pretty much every other spaghetti out there. Thanks, butter.
A little bite of crudo that’s pretty damn tasty. You aren’t gonna be mad about it, assuming the fish is fresh. It will be.
Polenta with truffled mushrooms. Of course it’s going to taste good. But you probably won’t be able to eat more than a few bites before you have to tap out.
Short Rib & Bone Marrow Agnolotti
Meat filled pasta. This is a heavy dish that doesn’t really satisfy like it should. It just made us feel like looking into one of those rascal scooters that people use for no reason in the grocery store.
Duck and Foie Gras Ravioli
Heavy and not as good as it should be, considering there’s a full suite of duck parts in there.
Striped Sea Bass
Not a terrible way to keep things light here. It won’t be the best sea bass you’ve ever had, but it also won’t make you want to fast for two weeks.
An absolute classic. It hardly gets better than L'Artusi, and that's been the case for a long time.
Don't worry about the fact that it's a celebrity chef's restaurant. Gato will remind you why Bobby Flay became famous in the first place - because he can f*cking cook.
Most everything on the menu at Charlie Bird is fantastic. But what’s really got our attention are two things that these people already do better than almost anyone else: service and wine.
A trendy spot, but for a more sedate group...not the hair gel and high heels crowd that you find a few blocks north in the meatpacking district. Simple food, top quality ingredients, a good wine and beer list - all the makings of an Immaculate Infatuation mainstay.
The sister restaurant to L'Artusi that has not only also has an apostrophe, but also has many of the same menu items. This one's a bit more laid back and better for brunch.
We can’t say that this is a place that we will ever have in heavy rotation, but keep Lupa in your back pocket for when you’re in need of a solid meal in a neighborhood with so many random restaurants.