402 W 43rd Street,

New York, NY;

Tel. (212) 564-7272

January 2008

Esca, located in Manhattan’s theater district, is one of New York’s top fish and seafood restaurants. Chef David Pasternak is an absolute maestro when it comes to preparing the finest local purveyors have to offer. The cooking is brilliant, but never overwhelms the purity and sheer quality of the raw materials. Esca is also one of the few fine restaurants in the city that is open for Saturday lunch and is very child-friendly, which makes it one of my first choices when my wife and I want to take our young son out to lunch on the weekend.

This casual, leisurely lunch was a great opportunity to sample many of the kitchen’s dishes without going overboard. The crudo was, as always, brilliant. I loved the Zuppa di Pesce and the spaghetti with chilis, mint and a one pound lobster for their bright, bold flavors. My red snapper was cooked perfectly and remained quite moist, something that is not always easy to achieve with this fish. 2006 is a benchmark vintage for the great Friulian whites. Villa Russiz’s 2006 Sauvignon de La Tour did not disappoint. Varietal aromas and flavors were complemented by the richness and volume that winemaker Gianni Menotti seeks. The wine worked brilliantly with all our dishes and was absolutely beautiful.

I am not a huge lover of sweets yet I rarely miss Esca’s affogato al caffé, a quintessentially Italian dessert made by pouring espresso over coffee ice cream. We washed it down with a refreshing glass of La Spinetta’s 2007 Moscato d’Asti Biancospina. La Spinetta proprietor Giorgio Rivetti does so many things well, yet his delicious Moscatos from Asti remain among my favorites.


Bianchetti (crispy rainbow smelts)

Crudo tasting

Zuppa di Pesce Amalfitana

Spaghetti with chilis, mint and a one pound lobster

Grilled American red snapper with artichokes, olives and oven-dried tomato

Affogato al caffé


2006   Villa Russiz Sauvignon de La Tour 93

2007   La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti Biancospina     90

 [Photo and credit: Esca, New York]

--Antonio Galloni