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Thursday, March 18, 2021

A Peachy's Pick Since 2011, The Leopard at des Artistes Winter 2021

Peachy's newest best friend: Capesante
Gianfranco Sorrentino, owner of The Leopard and fabulous beacon of hope in the global Italian culinary upper echelons is ready to greet you with his smashing unrivaled wine list!  Can you see the wine smiling back at you?
Understatement of the year!  We have missed you too, The Leopard, and many other restaurants that have perished we will miss you forever and the others that are still surviving, we are coming because we miss you too!  Peachy Deegan has been honored to cover The Leopard since it opened; we believe we were there first within the first three weeks of it opening ever.  
Whom You Know is not lowering its standards ever and those that will be featured going forward are subject to the same criteria that ever existed; we would have never stopped going if it wasn't for the oppressive regime of New York State and New York City in tandem dictating the restaurant closings.  The Leopard at des Artistes and Il Gattopardo are owned by Gianfranco and Paula Sorrentino and Vito Gnazzo; Il Gattopardo is among those we will be reviewing in the near future.  If you said to yourself but what happened to Mozzeralla and Vino hold onto your hats-Gianfranco has superior business acumen: it is being renovated and we hope to be the first to review it ever.  Hold your horses because quality takes time.  This is our first published restaurant review of 2021 because we have simple taste: we like the best and we're starting at the top.
Also Peachy has spent a lot of time reading Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway in 2021: not a lot of time eating dinner...yet.
The Leopard was last featured four years ago in 2017:
The newest addition: Jordan Frosolone has joined as Executive Chef; his Italian ancestry is from Montemaggiore Belsito, Sicily and Sangregio Magno outside of Salerno, Campagnia and we were delighted to meet him.  You will remember that Gianfranco is from Napoli.  Of course as it always has been The Leopard is totally immaculate and they took Peachy's temperature on her forehead when she walked in.  She passed.  Peachy's return to civility commenced with Insalata di Cicoria:
Chicory, Sicilian anchovies, blood oranges and breadcrumbs present themselves in gorgeous layers of crunch bursting with nutrition, color and freshness.  We commend the anchovy quality which is spectacular; we would be less aggressive with the breadcrumbs.  The radicchio radiated and waltzed beautifully with the blood oranges on our plate.  
All meatballs are not born equally: some are just superior.
An ideal ratio of 50/50 beef/veal, these wonders of the carnivorous world radiate in ricotta and pop in parsley.  If you did not know the adjective decadent applied to meatballs clearly you haven't been here.  The flavor is amazing, the texture is ideal and the fresh grated cheese makes them even better.
How do we love the pursuit of pasta at The Leopard?  Let us count the ways.  
Gianfranco suggested a special of the night: Cacio e Pepe.  If you are lucky enough to visit on a night this is a special, it should be your pasta priority as it was our favorite of the three we tried and Gianfrano was quite correct.  The ratio of cheese to pepper to pasta was perfection and if this ideal ratio is not achieved, the entire dish is thrown off.  They have it just right for Goldilocks Peachy.  There is nothing to criticize: it is flawless.
How can one go to the beach and stay in Manhattan?  By ordering the Spaghettoni Alle Vongole: Clams, white wine, garlic, red pepper and parsley.  The flavor components are extraordinarily well-balanced.  It's not too spicy and it's not too bland.  The clams are properly the star of this show and you will revel in their exquisite delicacy.  We don't need to tell you this is the kind of place where they know to bring you the right fork for the clams and a shell discard dish: you know that already because we are at The Leopard at des Artistes.
If you are more into a red sauce hearty winter dish, opt for Paccheri:
Peachy herself was in exactly this mood and this weather is way too cold for her; the Paccheri is the first dish to magically disappear in its entirety from this review and as we always say, actions speak louder than words.  We were enchanted with the pork sausage, tomato and ricotta.  Its intoxicating aroma welcomes you into the signature understated elegance of The Leopard and the al dente magnificence will indeed wow you.
There is not a bad seat in the house of course and we happened to be seated by the bar.  We noticed the Culinary King Charlie Whitfield shelf.  Of course Peachy is celebrating the 12 year anniversary of Whom You Know all year with the Macallan 12 year.
Of what we tried the most laudable dish of all was Capesante: Pan seared scallops from Maine, lardo, Sicilian oregano and breadcrumbs are fragrant champions of the sea so fresh and delicious, seared to perfection.  Their taste alone announces New York is back!
Finally, for our meat selection meet Pollo.  Roasted half-chicken with sauteed Swiss chard and Calabrian pepper in powder form, this entree boasts a nice balance with meat and greenery in its crispy eminance.
There is no epidemic that can keep The Leopard at des Artistes down!

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