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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peachy Picks Sistina

Michaelangelo would have eaten here!
And The Sopranos do.
Bravo, Giuseppe Bruno!
You know Peachy's main Italian phrases consist of:
"Nice to meet you.  My name is Peachy.  I love Italian shoes!"
Now she's going to be saying Amo Le Sistina Italiane...she thinks scarpe is the word for shoes and she just substituted it with Sistina...
It has been quite a long time since Peachy Deegan has been this impressed by a restaurant.
Started in 1983, Sistina is the only place that Elaine went to for lunch Giuseppe told Peachy...and David Chase, who created The Sopranos, is a regular and we saw him across the room when we dined.  The Prosecco we began with was delightful and we love the level of detail exuded by Sistina-look at their name etched on the glass.  The garlic knots that began this smash hit were the best Peachy has ever had.  And we all began with a spot of American broccoli soup which was  fresh with a top of Parmesan foam.  Pure class.  
More beautiful Shrimp and scallops cannot be found.
When this arrived, Peachy was in another state of being eating them as they floated above exquisite crabmeat.  And they must be reading as look at the lovely green garnished about!  You know it's her favorite color.
Sistina was previously featured in Tasty Tidbits:
And we can say with sincere enthusiasm that it now holds an esteemed place in Peachy's Picks.
The Paste course consisted of black fettuccine with clams, calamari and broccoli and this is a clear cut winner.  Sumptuously succulent, it will bring you back to the Mediterranean!  Peachy Deegan sipped on a genuinely excellent white Mueller Theirgain Garlander 2009 to go with this course.  Captain Daniel Bernabe was the master of the menu knowing every last detail of every special, and there are as many specials as there are items on the menu!  Jimmy Dimo was just delightful as well and the service at Sistina was flawless.
Nothing was less than perfect the entire night for Peachy, and for the secondi piatti, she chose the Scaloppine di vitello alla caprese which for anyone that does not speak Italian, means Veal Scaloppine with mozzarella, oregano and lemon white wine sauce.  Nothing short of divine, it was paired with a lovely 2004 Brunello.   The masterpiece was complete with chocolate souffle, accompanied by hazelberry gelato and wildberry sauce:
Michaelangelo, we can see you reading this in heaven with envy!  But you can't be too miserable because we know The Peachy Deegan is served up there because Peachy's grandmother is drinking it.  We knew this was going to be fabulous, and Peachy Deegan brought three of the most fabulous people she's interviewed along for the panel, and they rave:
The table is set with ivy-covered, gilt-edged plates. The champagne flutes holding your Valdobiadene Prosecco are etched with the Sistina name. The waiter service, and the linen napkins speak to you in volumes and David Chase, of The Sopranos, is seated in the corner with his wife. This sets the mood, the tone, and the ambiance of Sistina, Italian restaurant par excellance, well known by Town & Country, Vogue Magazine, and The New York Times, on the Upper East Side.
The owner went to the Culinary Institute in Italy, and came to New York with the dream of opening fresh, new and quality Italian restaurants. He worked at Mr. Chow, and was friends with Elaine, doyene of the literati crowd. The  Sistina does him proud (now also involved with Caravaggio, and part owner of another restaurant, he keeps busy feeding New Yorkers).
The Captain of the waiters comes to tell you that the “specials “ are too many to fathom, but he will be happy to take  his time and go through the menu with you, course by course.  Just listening to the decanting of the antipasti, etc, is poetry.  The waiter brings a complimentary amuse-bouche:  an American broccoli soup,  topped with parmesan foam, served in a expresso cup with the bread. The bread basket, by the way, is brimming with garlic knots the likes of which are not to be found anywhere else in town. For my appetizer, I decided on the parmesan soufflé, finished with truffle shavings.  With the eggs, cream, the earthiness of the truffles and  the full flavor of the parmesan cheese, a Garleder 2009 was perfect. A white wine,  from Northern Italy, from Muller Thurgau, it came as recommended by Daniel, the Captain. Ask him his opinion, and he's so happy to comply.  All of the waiters are friendly and on top of your every need, ready to explain, or suggest.
Pasta dish: I chose the 4 flavor malaredus pasta: a sicilien cavatelli, with squid as one of the ingredients, in a very light tomato sauce.  The Brunello de Montalcino 2004 was just right with the pasta course.  The 4 flavors of the cavatelli come through clearly, distinct and individual.  The wine blended the flavors and complimented everything beautifully.

For an entrée: the local trout with a crispy skin served with greens covering it (more purple than green) called for another white wine: 2009 Vernaccia di San Gemianano.  The greens garnished, but added  texture and flavor to the crisp shell of this wonderfully moist fish.

And now dessert: how to choose from: gelato, tiramisu, tartufo, chocolate soufflé, pannacotta? The list goes on, My choice was the chocolate ganache cake. Not to leave you unsatisfied, your table is served with a plateful of home-made cookies: chocolate, and small  coconut mouthfuls among them, just to finish the courses.
If the forsythia at the bar weren't breathtaking enoug,  and the service wasn't perfection enough,  the food says it all.  When in Rome, or in this case, the Upper East Side, do as the Sopranos do, and visit Sistina for a perfectly composed meal.

“Other worldly” is an apt way to describe Sistina, an upper east side Italian restaurant catering to an established clientele. Owner Gusieppe Bruno is an expert restaurateur and host and the wait staff is equally attentive, warm and friendly.  You need to come with a larger than life appetite and an open mind – because in Gusieppe’s world, more is more and the ingredients in each dish dazzle the palette.  I was slightly overwhelmed by the extreme combinations… all delicious and rich. 

The restaurant is authentic Italian and there are references to southern Italy… the artichokes are delicious and abundant, Norcia truffles add a note not detected in most meals that I have had in this country.  The Carciofi Sistina is a perfect example… an ideal starter of artichokes, fava beans, baby lettuce, pecorino cheese, black truffle and balsamic vinegar.  There were so many complex overtones but the result is wonderfully light and there was not a morsel left on my plate. 

My pasta, a cavatelli, was heavily flavored with bacon and mussels, and tempered by zucchini in a delicious olive oil.  Surely it was pure perfection and I was completely satisfied with the Outis Pinor Noir chosen to complement this divine course.

Finally, the main course arrived – it is the specialty of the house and has been delighting patrons for twenty years.  Chicken meatballs filled with meat, fava beans, peas and a secret blend of spices made this dish worth the wait… I only could devour a few bites as I was patiently waiting for the desserts which deserve the phrase, “other wordly”.

Chocolate soufflé was surely the winner… I selected the tartufo which would not be my recommendation given the other amazing treats.  The cookie plate is superlative and since I had to try every one,  I would have been happy ordering just the cookie plate and sharing that with the table.  

All in all, Sistina is a delightful Italian getaway right here on Manhattan’s UES.  Bravo!  I look forward to returning – the portions are generous and complex so order less, you can always add more.

Sistina is a cozy restaurant with beautiful art by Donald Baechler.  The art work is as inspiring as the food.  Giuseppe Bruno, the owner of Sistina is a warm, personable and friendly host. He has devoted his life to his passion and it is clearly evident in every bite.  The special artichoke appetizer is earthy, tasty and interesting.  The combination of the hearts of artichoke, fava beans, foam parmasean cheese and shave black truffles is a masterful piece of art… both in its appearance and taste. 

The Tortelloni ripiene di carne con tartufo di Norcia is yet another piece of art.  The visual presentation is beautiful with a rich aroma and flavor; and the portion is perfect as the rich combination of ingrediants add up to a flavorful and wonderfully elegant dish. The Brunello di Montalcino perfectly complemented the artisinal dish.

The wild king salmon served with red beets cooked in red wine and sherry vinegar was not my most favorite.  The combination of the beets and salmone was supreme but the abundance of vinegar overpowered the gentle flavorful salmon.  

My dessert, a chocolate souffle, was the perfect end to a beautiful meal.  My complements to Giuseppe, his wait staff and chef… they are a beautiful team and I felt as if I were at home in Italy dining with friends and family.

Whom You Know Highly Recommends Sistina.
Giuseppe's brother owns Caravaggio, so maybe we will be telling you about that soon too!
Peachy Picks Sistina!
1555 Second Avenue
            212 861 7660      

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