Thursday, January 15, 2015
From the sublime Carciofi Sistina above to the triumphant Nantucket Bay scallops with cauliflower puree below, every glorious taste of Sistina's fare will wow you!
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From the moment you enter Sistina, you know you've arrived into a bastion of excellence right down to the table setting. Owned by our friend, the talented Giuseppe Bruno who is from Italy, Sistina hits the high mark on every aspect of fine dining, and has done so for the last three decades.
Giuseppe has every taste level possible for a restaurateur to possess (remember Joel Warren talking about how some people have more taste levels...) and is one of the most, if not the most, detail-oriented restaurateur we've worked with. Ever. If you are an avid reader, you know how much we love details, and we love Sistina.
It is bad news for the many other Italian venues that we've dined at over the years that we first went to Sistina in 2011, and they all have been compared to Sistina in our mind. Few measure up to what we continue to experience at Sistina, and Sistina sets the standard for excellence in Italian cuisine. We first featured it in Peachy's Picks four years ago in February, 2011:
The bread is fresh as are the breadsticks, and there are sundried tomatoes and capers in the delicious butter.
And even Peachy Deegan, who does not like olives, likes the Sistina Olives.
The garlic knots are simply divine. We adore the rosemary highlight combined with parmesean and olive oil. Just fabulous. The pure brilliance and genuine flavor of every item you consume at Sistina will gloriously revel on your palate, and if you don't have as many taste levels as Giuseppe when you enter, you will have more when you leave.
Less is more at Sistina, and their comfort food is the epitome of quality. Nothing is bland, nothing is disguised, and everything is celebrated in its true, pure, original flavor. Deciding what to try is one of life's best problems. For our green salad, we chose the Carciofi Sistina.
After you devour it visually, because it really is that gorgeous (Giuseppe's food could grace a catwalk!), you'll pick up your fork and be excited to try the symphony of globe artichokes, fava beans, baby lettuce, pecorino cheese and balsamic vinegar.
It was crisp, fresh, and the best salad we've had this season in any city. The fried artichoke arrangement in a star on top was a nice touch, and we liked how the fava beans were artfully halved. This blissful Carciofi Sistina was light, healthy and fresh.
For an appetizer, we'd highly, highly recommend the Delizia di Mare al Vapore: Warm seafood medley with fennel and oven-dried tomato. The flavor is absolutely superlative, as is every component; here's the artful runway:
Shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops and octopus are so fresh they taste like Giuseppe just flew in with them from his own private island, which is not the case. What is true is that Giuseppe goes to the fish market every day to personally select all seafood, and he does this for the meat as well (Master Purveyors, Hunts Point.) If you have a very good memory, you know we used to take a lot of pictures of his flowers which he also personally selects at the flower market.
For our pasta course, we chose the ravioli stuffed with wild striped bass and artichokes in a sundried tomato sauce. Nicely folded, they were delicately delicious, in a class by themselves, and absolutely authentic to their intrinsic flavor.
They insisted on a close-up:
Nantucket Bay scallops with cauliflower puree individually line up at attention! Meet your fabulous entree! They waltz in the cauliflower puree and a rainbow mix of microgreens grace the top of the best seafood entry we've had in months (and we have had some great ones!) They smell as delicious as they taste, and you will rejoice in their fresh flavor and perfect searing. You should know in addition to being talented in the kitchen (Giuseppe is the Executive Chef and Sommelier as well as owner), Giuseppe is a genuinely nice person-he supports brain cancer research (see his event here). He is also quite modest, and saying he keeps it simple is like Paul McCartney saying his songs are simple or like Cindy Crawford saying she used to smile for the camera.
Is their cuisine more delicious or more gorgeous? We can't decide, and you'll never have to because you can have it all at Sistina. Every last detail they consistently nail is the dining pleasure of those with discriminating taste in Manhattan! Obviously, Sistina is even better than Terrific Takeout and they continue to earn our Highest Recommendation.
1555 Second Avenue
212 861 7660
Even Santa eats here: