My list of restaurants to try in 2009 is quickly dwindling - there are only 2 left! We knocked Scampo off the list this weekend with Mj and Brian. Scampo is in the Liberty Hotel, a beautiful $150 million renovation job of a former jail. The hotel is visually stunning; it is somehow still reminiscent of the former prison, and yet looks nothing like a jail.
We started with light, airy yet crunchy breadsticks with a fava bean puree. On Fridays there is a suckling pig special, but by 9:00pm, they were out of it. The menu is divided in to sections of: Homemade bread, Starters, Pizza, Mozzarella bar, Spaghetti, Handmade Pastas and Risotti, Main Plates and Sides. The four of us share a mélange of dishes from the whole menu. We had:
Ciccio – It was a thin, tender bread with 2 kinds of cheese melted and sandwiched in between with truffle oil. Okay, Lydia Shire, call it whatever you want, but I recognize a quesadilla when I see it, a tasty quesadilla, but a quesadilla all the same.
Salt and pepper short ribs – I liked the short ribs, but it was a strange dish as it was much more Asian than Italian. The rib was cut in the Korean style (a cross section of the ribs), it was served with a fresh spring roll and the spices used were Asian.
Mozzarella with beef carpaccio – I liked the beef, I didn’t love it. The mozzarella was creamy and delicious.
Spaghetti with cracklings and hot pepper – This was delicious. I want to tuck in to a giant bowl of this at the end of a hard day.
Parsnip gnocchi with chicken livers – The gnocchi was tender and fluffy and the parsnip cubes were a nice addition. The general feeling was that the chicken livers did not go with the rest of the dish. I, personally, love chicken liver with anything.
Kurobuta pork chop – Kurobuta is the porcine equivalent of
We ordered two sides: soft polenta and broccoli rabe. I really enjoyed both, although the extreme bitterness of the rabe would probably put off 90% of the population. The polenta was a lovely, creamy and rich counterpoint to the rabe.
In an effort to not replicate the dessert overload of the previous week, we only ordered 3 desserts: crème caramel, molten chocolate cake in a cup and a cookie plate that included pistachio biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, almond macaroons, coconut macaroons, brown sugar cookies and gingersnaps. The chocolate cake was outstanding; it was served with a scoop of white coffee ice cream that heightened all the flavors in the dessert. The crème caramel had the appropriate texture and was a respectable version of the dish. The cookie plate was a disappointment. I would say that my chocolate chip, ginger molasses, and coconut macaroons are far superior to Scampo’s. I also feel that if you offer a cookie plate, the cookies should be warm. Most of the cookies suffered from a dryness factor. I think the almond macaroon was the best in the bunch.
Our service was stellar, and R was very happy that when he ordered milk, he got a choice of whole milk or 2%.
I think that if I thought of the restaurant as Global cuisine with an emphasis on