30 Jun Forbes
2 Enticing Mediterranean Spots Enter New York’s Reenergized Dining Scene
13 blocks North, Antonio Salvatore, the Michelin starred chef of Monaco restaurants Rampoldi and its chefs table sulet La Table d’Antonio Salvatore debuted in New York by opening Casa Limone in early June steps away from Rockefeller Center. The focus here is southern Italy, specifically his home region Basilicata and surrounding regions Puglia, Calabria, Campania and the island of Sicily, but it’s far from the familiar version of a red sauce restaurant: the exmplexity in the complexity matches the vibrancy of the flavors.
That energy through immediately in startes such as yellowfin tuna carpaccio with sundried tomatoes, olives ad capers and Neapolitan pizzas from a classic Fior di latte mozzarella, tomato and basil to the more unusual Bolognetta with murtadella, burrata and pistachios that emerge from the wood burning oven. Among the flavorful pastas: chariot wheel pasta is laced with capers, anchovies, basil and the Trapanse Timbale: ricotta and pasta rings bakedi with eggplant, salami, mozzarella, peas and tomato sauce. Main courses include roasted octopus with a thick, savory sauce composed of cherry tomatoes, Taggiasca olives, bell peppers and olive oil, roasted chicken with lemon and caper sauce and dry aged filet mignon with arugula, tumatoes, vegetables and beef jus.
The vivid nature of the dishes is matched by the surroundings, designed to invoke the feelings and colors of southern Italian towns starting with the lemon yellow, vintage Vespa at the door. The restaurant is split on two levels with a white marble bar with 17 royal blue velvet bar seats just inside the entrance with a dining area featuring orange velvet chairs and royal blue and forest green banquettes just behind it. The second floor is designed as a pergola with climbing vines and hanging flowers sorrounded by stone walls and window shutters and filled with mustard yellow and orange velvet chairs and royal blue and forest green banquettes. Bottles of limoncello and ceramic plates line the walls and the hand painted tables from Campania are dressed with Murano water glasses (an interloper from northern Italy) and hand painted ceramic plates from Caltagirone, the town known for its ceramics in Sicily.
Taken all together, that flavors, colors, aromas are transporting – not quite in Italy but awfully close.