- Cuisine: Italian
- Vibe: Rock ‘n’ roll trattoria
- Occasion: Business lunch, romantic date, family affair
- Don’t Miss: Squid-ink tagliatelle, Scuderia pizza, buttermilk panna cotta
- Price: Appetizers, $9; entrées, $18; dessert, $8.50
- Reservations: Accepted
- Phone: (212) 206-9111
- Location: 10 Downing St., between Bleecker and Houston.
Stand at the corner of Downing St. and Sixth Ave. and take a look around. What you may be seeing is the core of a New Little Italy, complete with neighborhood feuds and family businesses passed down to the next generation.
The old Little Italy, to the east and downtown, is slowly fading away. But here are Bar Pitti, Da Silvano, Silvano Bistecca and Scuderia, which just opened six weeks ago.
Thirty years ago, Silvano Marchetto
opened Da Silvano – it’s upscale, it’s hard to get into, it’s like a
celebrity supper club of sorts. But if you’re not fancy enough to get
into Da Silvano, you can sneak into Scuderia.
was opened by Silvano, his daughter, Leyla, and two other owners. Da
Silvano’s got white tablecloths and $38 veal Milanese. Scuderia got
album covers on the walls and a $9 grilled cheese. Nothing in the decor
says what kind of food it serves. It looks like a record store where
they still sell vinyl and blast classic rock. It serves comfort food –
pizzas, pastas, paninis, soups, salads and ice cream sundaes.
is really an Italian diner. Bacon and eggs? It’s called the Occhio di
Bue pizza, and it’s topped with mozzarella, thick and crispy pancetta,
pecorino, spinach leaves and a sunny-side-up egg. I never thought I’d
love jam pizza, but at Scuderia, it’s wonderful. If you ordered a jam
pie in America, it would come slathered with strawberry jelly, Velveeta and Spam.
uses fig jam, sharp blue cheese and speck (ham), so it’s actually
Mediterranean, not just Italian, and much more cosmopolitan. The
kitchen’s great skill is in building bacon and eggs, and jam and ham,
on a construction site of flatbread. Peanut butter & jelly
sandwich? They’ve got that, too.
The tramezzini section – crustless white-bread sandwiches – were a
gruesome discovery. The prosciutto and mushroom tramezzino tasted like
soggy Wonder Bread
with baloney, mushrooms and mayonnaise. The artichoke and
fontina-stuffed tramezzino was just as dreadful. Skip the sandwiches
and focus your attention on the seafood.
I loved the squid-ink
tagliatelle with fresh fish and a great, garlicky tomato sauce. The
frittura mista is a generous heap of battered calamari, tilapia,
shrimp, green beans and sweet potato with a homemade tartar sauce. I’d
order the brick-flattened Cornish hen for the jus-bathed potatoes.
and stash a few salt packets in your pocket before you go to Scuderia.
A lot of dishes needed it. The gnocchi tasted like warm potato blobs in
a tasteless butter-and-sage sauce. Who would’ve thought minestrone soup
would be a low-sodium experience? But an order of rock-hard meatballs
was too far gone to be saved merely by salt.
If nothing else,
Scuderia is a great spot for dessert. Even if you do snag a table at Da
Silvano, cross the street for dessert. My favorite is the buttermilk
panna cotta – silky and smooth, yet unusually light. Then there’s the
tiramisu – a do-it-yourself collection of lady fingers, zabaglione and
a cup of liqueur-spiked espresso.
The only bad one in the bunch is the gnocchi dolci, stuffed with pineapple and pine nuts in maple syrup.
Is the food fabulous at Scuderia? No. But it’s not bad either. Not bad at all.