14019196716_76162c2291_bWe have eaten at Esca countless times.  It is one of the few if not only restaurants in the theater district that serve really good food.  Granted I have been there some nights and the kitchen is off but other times the place just hums.  So when I saw that Dave Pasternak, the chef behind Esca, had opened his own spot on 23rd Street (although still the head chef at Esca) I wanted to go. I want to be gracious in regards that Barchetta just opened a few weeks ago.  We no longer live in the time where you have a few weeks to tune up the menu and kitchen because of social media.  You just open as soon as you can and hope for the best.  The partners here with Pasternak are not the same partners as Esca so a very different run place.  The place definitely has a bit of a suburban vibe which is quite unfortunate.   The service is lacking too.   All restaurants should have a few things that are just off the charts.  Nothing is off the charts here. crudoWe began with a crudo tasting.  There were four of us.  I said we were all going to do the crudo tasting.  Bring that first and then we will have the salads.  Out comes the salads first and one plate of the crudo tasting.   The waiter had to regroup.  Take the salads back and then get 3 more crudo tastings.  It took some time for that.  You could tell the manager was frustrated.  The kitchen was definitely having some issues as you could see from where we were sitting that there was definitely confusion.   The crudo was subpar.   Some of the fish was good but some of the fish was just tasteless. peasaladThe salad with raw peas, aged pecorino and mint was actually good.  A really nice summery combination of flavors. liverI also liked the local monkfish liver grilled and served with black mission figs and some wilted greens that made zero sense. pastaredThe pastas were just bad.  Fusilli with clams and chilies in a red sauce tasted as if it had come out of a can. lobsterpasternakThe lobster pasta which made was interactive as you had to take your lobster meat out of the claw was subpar too.  Lobster over fettuccine with english peas, spring onions and sorrel. scallopsThe scallop main course was pretty good.  Nice plump grilled Montauk sea scallops served over sliced hearts of palms and lime juice.  I wouldn’t run back for this but it was well prepared. kingfishThe kingfish was just ok.   Well prepared over some asparagus and ramps. No dessert here.  We had been there for hours.  Quite a disappointment to say the least.  Pasternak has run a successful kitchen for years at Esca and put out a nice cookbook to boot.  Although there are certainly many mediocre restaurants that function and live for years in NYC  I  just can’t imagine Barchetta making a pivot to excellent any time soon.

Comments (Archived):

  1. AG

    You really are the best type of restaurant critic–honest, but fair. I have to say, if it isn’t the pictures, the plating looks subpar too.

    1. Gotham Gal

      beyond subpar