I do remember never daring to venture into the Meatpacking District when living in NYC in the early 80’s and after a bit of research into the area after my recent visit, things are coming back to me… In the early 1900’s, the area was home to slaughterhouses and packing plants but by the 1980’s, it had become a center for drug dealing, prostitution, sex clubs etc. etc. Oh dear. Well, you can imagine my reticence when my daughter said I really should spend some time in this area – “there is the new Diane von Furstenberg headquarters and boutique, the Chelsea Market, a big new Apple store, several boutique hotels and many of the newest “in” restaurants including: Pastis, Buddakan, Spice Market, Scarpetta, and the Standard Grill.” What a turnaround. The area is I guess now quite fashionable; more boring perhaps but at least visitable.
We started with dinner at Scarpetta. I love this restaurant. It is small, intimate, busy, but a bit loud. The food is excellent. Appetizers we enjoyed were: a tuna susci – raw tuna with marinated vegetables, beautifully presented; a roasted beet salad; and a braised short ribs of beef appetizer with faro risotto. The white wine we ordered was an Italian Falanghina 2009 by Taburno – very crisp and flavorful, similar to a Pinot Grigio but more interesting. For a main course I thought this would be a great place to start my new quest: the search for the best of one of my all time favorite dishes - pasta with tomato sauce. It was an auspicious start - Scarpetta has a good one – labeled simply “spaghetti with tomato and basil”. There is Parmesan cheese incorporated in the sauce, which made for a great flavor. The only negative was that the homemade pasta was a bit too gummy for my taste. But tomorrow is another day and hopefully another pasta. (to be continued...)