Published on May 2nd, 2013 | by Greg0
Pescatore: Don’t Pass By!
It is all too easy for a restaurant to get over-looked in the novelty-focused New York City restaurant scene. There’s always a bunch of spots that pop up following the latest trends, whether it’s Asian fusion or homemade meatballs. But there is still plenty of room for the classics, well-made and prepared with care, presented nicely, and with solid service that keep you coming back for more.
That’s what Pescatore offers in a nutshell: fairly traditional Italian with a seafood focus and no compromises. This Midtown East spot offers your classic booths and small tables with candlelight, plus some cafe-style outdoors seating, and a wide menu with plenty of selections for every appetite. We were delighted to swing by for a dinner last week, and had a delightful experience. It’s hard to go wrong with their red wine Sangria ($8) or flatbreads (also called pizzettas) like the Caprino, which combined goat cheese, caramelized onions, spicy coppa and a delicious, unusual fig marmalade for a sweet/savory combination that was pretty much ideal ($14).
Couples and small groups fill the space most weeknights, a mix of banker types and other locals looking for a fairly low-key night out. We recommend stopping by after work in the evenings and grabbing a glass of Sancerre, only one of their dozen or so white wines available by the glass (it’s a flexible wine with a great aroma, not too dry and not too sweet, from Domaine La Barbotaine and $15 a glass). We sampled a trio of appetizers, available for $22 or individually for $8- definitely pick their Parmesan Panna Cotta, a specialty that features a bit of asparagus, tomato confit, and dried olives. The mushroom risotto balls were fairly unimpressive, the only real miss we sampled- not bad, simply uninspired. The fried calamari though, was near-perfection- it can often be over-battered or lack flavor, but here the tempura-style batter was light and flaky and the marinara sauce a great dipping condiment.
Entrees were equally good- a nightly special goat cheese and lamb gnocchi that set a very high bar and will have us returning ($18), and a squid ink pasta that offered plenty of kick. We also tried a dish that often can feel a bit too standard, the grilled tuna ($25). We regularly see publicity images that look quite different from the actual results in the restaurant, but our impressive portion looked pretty much exactly like the picture. And Pescatore didn’t miss the chance to add a little bit extra: the eggplant caponata added some bulk and flavor without being a boring rice or starch, and the basil oil a nice botanical note that was markedly better than the normal overpowering black pepper or lemon/citrus that often coats tuna. We ordered medium rare, and got precisely that.
Service was friendly, approachable, and offered recommendations and suggestions that felt realistic and unforced- a place that felt like they’ll remember you and go the extra mile to make every diner happy. Prices were impressively fair, considering the portions and quality. Even the cheesecake was intriguing, a very memorable combination of Italian and America styles, with a bit of ricotta texture and a bit of the classic New York, lacking much crust but a lovely end to a dinner and a piece large enough to share ($8). Reservations accepted, Pescatore is located at 955 2nd Avenue and is open from noon to 11:30 on weekdays, a bit earlier for brunch hours on the weekend.