Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's "Spuntino" Time

I'm ashamed to admit it, but last week I did something that Miss Menu rarely does...I went out to dinner with no specific restaurant (or even cuisine) My friend AM wanted to come check out my new digs and then we'd go grab dinner in my neighborhood. We ventured out, got to 2nd Avenue, and decided to walk a block or two in hopes of something that caught our eye. We came across Spuntino, Pescatore's new wine bar, and after peeking in, we decided to give it a shot. I ate at Pescatore years ago, and while I remember the meal being good, I also remember the restaurant feeling a little stuffy or formal. I think it was a very smart move for the owners of the restaurant to make half of its space on street level into a trendy, more casual spot.

The atmosphere inside Spuntino is great, with exposed brick walls, decorative mirrors, and candle sconces. They created three distinct sections all within one space: a bar area with high top tables, a regular dining section, and a lounge area with antique couches and coffee tables. We were seated at one of the high tables towards the front of the restaurant, which turned out to be very convenient so we had plenty of room for all of our dishes.

So, I looked up the word "spuntino" in Italian, and turns out it means "snack." Checking out the menu, it looked like that name was pretty apropos. There was a long list of antipasti, small plates, salads, flat breads, and panini. The server brought over another list with that day's pasta specials. We decided to order the 3 antipasti combo and went with the mixed grilled vegetables, the artichoke salad, and the roasted corn fregula. The grilled vegetables featured a nice variety of asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, and onions. The artichokes were good, but a little too acidic. But, the big winner of this trio was the corn and fregula. Having to ask what fregula is, it turns out it's a small pasta very similar to Israeli couscous. It was mixed with roasted corn, scallions, tomatoes, coarse salt, and a light vinaigrette. It was such an interesting combination, and definitely a flavor I hadn't ever tasted before.

We also ordered the caprese panini, which had fresh mozzarella, tomato, red pepper, and pesto. The bread was nice and toasty, and the pesto gave the whole sandwich a great flavor...and a few green things in our teeth!

And lastly, we had the Forest Hills flat bread, with wild mushrooms, fontina cheese, and truffle oil. I've mentioned before my extreme love of anything truffle. And when combined with melted fontina cheese, my heart (and stomach) skips a beat! This was by far the best dish we ordered and unbelievably delicious...
...so much so that I took my mom 5 days later and we ordered it as well! We also ordered the antipasti trio, but replaced the grilled veggies and artichokes with eggplant parmesean and asparagus with parmesean crust. The asparagus plate was delicious, but the eggplant was kind of disappointing. It was served cold, and as a result, the cheese and eggplant hardened and lost their flavors.

Even though there are still so many restaurants for me to try in Midtown East, I am very excited to have found an awesome go-to spot so quickly. It was the perfect place to grab a "spuntino," and would also be great for after-work drinks, or even a group dinner.

Spuntino
955 Second Avenue
b/t 50th & 51st
Pescatore's website (Spuntino's is under construction)
Menu Pages listing

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