Saturday, April 30, 2011

Put Down the Plate, Bread Boy

Spaghetti – Scarpetta

Ginger has taken up Skinnygirl baking.  Following in the footsteps of Vodka, who has been teaching herself to cook via Bethenny Frankel’s cookbooks since last summer, Ginger arrives at Scarpetta for our next Best Thing I Ever Ate dinner armed with a moist Skinnygirl muffin.

“I’ve already eaten half the batch,” she admits.
A Picture That's Not Worth a Thousand Words
Upon tasting it, Vodka, who remains somewhat skeptical of the Skinnygirl dessert recipes, is astounded.  “This is Skinnygirl?!  It tastes so good!” she says.

“Yeah, I had to substitute fat ingredients wherever Bethenny said to use skinny,” Ginger confesses.  So there we have it.

We are escorted to our table at Scarpetta (once Vodka walked back and forth in front of the place four times – the restaurant name is not exactly paramount and Vodka is not exactly a genius).  Handed the wine list by our waiter (who, for the record, never disappears.  We’re looking at you, Cipriani Dolci), we are instantly confused.  We pretty much know how to order glasses of “Pinot Grigio” or “Pinot Noir.”  If wines are not called by these terms, we need English-to-English translation of the list.  Upon telling the waiter our desired preferences (“Wine that tastes like Pinot Grigio/Pinot Noir and is cheap”), we are provided with two glasses perfectly suited to our tastes.  Point number one, Scarpetta, for not making us feel like total morons.

With our wine comes the Greatest Bread Basket to Ever Exist on Earth.

No joke.

Unlike establishments (cough Balthazar cough) who charge you $16 for subpar bread, this heavenly bread basket is provided gratis, and it is comprised of approximately 87 varieties (or 4, but who’s counting?).  One of these varieties is Stromboli.  STROMBOLI.  We don’t even know the last time we have tasted the indulgence that is a loaf of pepperoni, cheese, and bread.  We are out of our minds with glee.
Best. Bread. Basket. Ever.
For the other breads, they give us a dish with three sauces (they tell us what they are, but our mouths are watering too heavily to comprehend).  The whole bread experience is not to be missed.  To be honest, we could have left then, content with our wine and bread appetizer.
The Bread Dips After Our Massacre of Them
Soldiering on, we order a polenta with truffled mushrooms to split as our appetizer, which is also OUT OF CONTROL good.  Neither of us being big followers of either polenta or mushrooms, we are blown away.  It is creamy and the flavors are nuanced, and it takes every ounce of self-control we have not to lick the bowl clean.
Who Knew Polenta Was So Delicious?
While clearing our polenta plate, a well-meaning busboy makes a move to take away Vodka’s bread plate, which she makes a dramatic effort to protect.

“Did you see the bread boy tried to take my plate?!” she whisper-yells across the table.

From this moment on, we are obsessed with referring to the poor soul as the "Bread Boy," because, after all, based on the quality of Scarpetta bread, it is his most important function.

For our entrees, Ginger, once again breaking rank, gets some sort of short rib ravioli-like pasta.  This, too, is great.
Non-Itinerary Pasta
Vodka, always a rule follower, orders the Best Thing I Ever Ate dish: Ted Allen’s SAUCED choice: spaghetti.  Now, Ted Allen had said not to scoff at the $24 price for a plate of spaghetti – that it really is that good.

Ted Allen doesn’t lie.

The spaghetti is presented in a compact sphere that is deceiving to its serving size – there’s actually quite a lot of it once you spread it out.
Optical Illusion Pasta Portion
The pasta noodles are thick, round, and cooked to perfection, coated with a subtle hint of tomato sauce and basil (Vodka hates over-saucing, so this pasta-to-sauce proportion is ideal).
Al Dente Much?
Much too soon, our plates and wine glasses are empty, and we are headed out of Scarpetta and away from the Best Full Meal We Have Eaten (So Far).

Scarpetta’s Spaghetti (plus bread basket): 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

1 comment:

  1. This was one of the first TBTIEA dishes I ever tracked down...but in LA. I was SOO happy when I heard Conant had opened a Scarpetta in Beverly Hills. And when I finally got my first bite of $24 spaghetti? Meh. Really underwhelming and just rather blah. Maybe the Italian awesomeness got left in NY. My friends both had the short rib agnolotti, though. We all liked it...but they were a tiny bit disappointed because they thought they were ordering ribs.