Esca [Closed]

402 West 43rd St.

New York, NY 10036

tel. (212) 564-7272

October, 2006

Readers dining at Esca are in for a treat. Chef David Pasternack's cuisine features the freshest fish and seafood prepared simply but brilliantly. We started with the crudo which alone is worth a visit. Always pristine and perfectly seasoned, the selection (which changes daily) included pink snapper with sea salt, hamachi with a gaeta olive aioli and bluefin tuna drizzled with olive oil from the Sicilian estate Planeta. I would have happily eaten a second portion, but there was plenty of food to come. The crudo was followed by a tasty fritto misto, a simple dish that is nevertheless rarely prepared correctly. Edi Kante's 2002 Vitovska was a great match with our first two courses. Vitovska is the indigenous white varietal of the Carso region of Friuli, a rugged landscape that typically gives wines with a distinct minerality. Kante's Vitovska was pure and steely, capturing the essence of its terroir, with notes of jasmine and smoke that were delicately interwoven and provided a nice balance. It offered excellent length and the necessary acidity to accompany the food.

For our pasta course Chef Pasternack served a delicious linguine with a sauce of cicale di mare that was a joy to eat. Aside from being impossibly ugly, these crustaceans are very difficult to clean but their sweet, succulent meat is well worth the effort. That said, preparing a sauce from cicale di mare can only be described as a labor of love. My main course was an impeccably prepared pan-roasted shark cooked to a perfect medium rare. Incredibly tender as well as flavorful, its melt-in-your-mouth texture was remarkable. We chose Movia's 2001 Veliko Bianco to accompany these two fully-flavored dishes. Movia is located in Brda, the name for the part of the Collio that falls on the Slovenian side of the border with Friuli. The estate's 2001 Veliko Bianco, a barrique-aged field blend of Ribolla, Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio worked quite well with our food. Its rich, ripe, almost tropical fruit paired especially well with the linguine. Still quite fresh and vibrant, the Veliko Bianco appears to have many years of prime drinking ahead of it.

That was followed by a wine that had nothing to do with our lunch, but that happens to be one of the most unforgettable wines I have tasted in a long time. A dear friend brought along a bottle of Giuseppe Quintarelli's 1997 Alzero which we tasted before, during and after lunch. The 1997 Alzero was simply phenomenal. Blessed with extraordinary, captivating aromatics, it seemingly revealed new layers of spice, licorice, coffee, chocolate, cassis, mineral and sweet dark fruit aromas and flavors with each successive taste. Ripe, jammy and concentrated, it showed an open, luxurious texture with plenty of supporting structure all while remaining remarkably light on its feet. Still primary and vibrant it promises to drink well for another 20+ years. It is a wine I found myself thinking about often in the days that followed.



Fritto misto

Linguine with cicale di mare sauce

Pan-roasted shark



Kante Vitovksa



Movia Veliko Bianco



Quintarelli Alzero


--Antonio Galloni