Northern Italian Food in the Southern Tip of Manhattan

Mr G and I had a fabulous day in Manhattan. We started our morning with a much needed trip to Bloomingdales (shut up I have my own definitions of need). We found him a beautiful pair of shoes, that I worry may end up never being worn again, but they delight me in that they are neither black nor brown and they are not loafers. We also replaced the Hugo Boss slim fit shirt that the dry cleaner lost. It’s an impossible shirt to find, and it’s the loveliest crisp white shirt to wear with jeans.

From Bloomies we went to meet friends for lunch, and from lunch we went to the Highline. Two worldly friends who told me that the Highline Park is one of the most beautiful places they’ve been. Mr G and I made our way downtown and climbed the stairs to an immature garden on an abandoned railway platform. We entered the Highline near 20th Street, which is clearly the newest part of the project, as we walked downtown the plants and trees grew lusher and more mature. It appears that the project began at the southernmost point and procceded north. The progression is spectacular and I love that the the tiniest saplings are at one end while only slightly larger ones are a few blocks away. New sections appear to be opening sometime soon.

The Highline is simply awe inspiring in that it offers spectacular city and river views, it’s the poster child for urban reuse, and the sounds. Do not miss the sounds. There are bells in the 14th street passage that will make you believe in the goodness of man. Stephen Vitiello traveled all over the city and recorded the sounds of bells ringing. Bells from the Stock Exchange, bells from bicycles, bells from Buddhist temples, and on the top of every hour there are 59 bells ringing together. You can sit in front of a list of the bells, and every minute another bell rings, it’s another tone, and another part of the city. The sound resonates and just as it disappears another bell chimes. The sounds are so crisp, so pure, and so fleeting that I could easily have sat for an hour.

After the Highline Mr G had some work to do so we separated and he headed back to midtown. I tromped around the meat packing district and then decided to listen to some friends and check out Century 21. I went down into the subway and didn’t exactly pay attention to where I was headed, when I came back above ground I was stunned to be standing at the World Trade Center.

I’ve been to New York a dozen times since the towers were bombed, but I’ve never made the pilgrimage to the WTC. It never pulled at me or my husband, and we didn’t feel like bringing our children there. I stood on Broadway slack jawed while staring at an enormous hole in the ground. There are mural sized advertisements everywhere showing a generic woman enjoying the view of a planned memorial. This was my first glance and as much as I’ve missed seeing the towers guiding me into the city, and as much as I thought I was prepared, I was utterly stunned by the size of the destruction.

I hated Century 21 because it made me go to the World Trade Center, and I hate that sort of shopping, but I managed to find a few things anyhow.

I went back to the hotel, dropped off my haul and freshened up. We had drinks with friends and then headed to the southernmost part of the city for the best meal I’ve had in many years.

If you are thinking of opening a restaurant go to Scalini Fedeli and watch them. Making a reservation was a pleasant event. I do not know of any other restaurant where the simple act of calling for a reservation is a warm and welcoming experience. The service is impeccable and the food was magnificent.

If you’ve ever tried making focaccia you know that there’s  magic in the onions. It’s easy to char the onions and difficult, but just as devastating, to undercook them. The olive oil and salt can make or break the bread. The focaccia at Scalini Fedeli was perfection and a sign of things to come.

Before appetizers we all had a single mushroom and black truffle ravioli in a light cream sauce. It was both hearty and light. Next was seared foie gras and roasted apples over braised spinach and toasted hazelnuts drizzled with port wine if I could eat this every day for the rest of my life I think I would. The main course was a light fish plate, that had crabmeat which was cooked to perfection. I seldom order crab or lobster outside of New England because it’s so often overcooked, but this was beyond amazing.

Dessert was a napoleon for me, and a souffle for him. I love that you don’t have to preorder a souffle here. Before dessert arrived we were each presented a small taste of sorbet, pineapple for me and cheesecake for him.

Again, I must reiterate, the service was best I’ve seen in at least a dozen years with every plate prepared to perfection, and just the right amount of attention from every member of the wait staff.

Sidenote: Mr G didn’t like it. Too snooty. Oy.

 

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