“Pescatore”: a Good CatchMay 10, 2010
Ok, this is it – the Mouse House Kitchen has invaded the Big Apple. It’s serious now. Well, sort of. Mother’s Day found us at Pescatore, one of the billions of restaurants on the east side of midtown Manhattan, right by the corner of 2nd Ave and 51st Street. While the brunch menu certainly does not encapsulate all of Pescatore’s offerings, having a larger group afforded us the opportunity to try many of their dishes, and while nothing was off-the-charts spectacular, all the food was very good.
The downstairs area has tables on the sidewalk and a nice bar inside, along with several smaller tables. The upstairs area was reserved for larger groups – it was well-lit and has a fireplace.
After taking our order, our server brought out some fresh wheat bread, along with what may be the best olive oil I’ve ever had. There were several Kalamata olives sitting in the bowl with the oil, accompanied by thin slices of garlic, red bell pepper and seasonings. It was exceptionally flavorful and difficult to resist consuming all of it with the bread.
We began with bruschetta, a relatively standard take on the dish, with toasted bread topped with tomatoes, red onion, Parmesan and basil. I’ve had versions where the topping was watery and bland; not so in Pescatore’s case. The mini-salad was well seasoned and bright.
Our youngest diner went for the breakfast side of the brunch menu, selecting a scrambled egg with bacon and home fries. They say you can judge a chef simply by how he/she cooks an egg, and Pescatore’s chef did a fine job. The thick-cut bacon was a bit overcooked to the point of tasting slightly burnt, but the potatoes were very tasty.
For the grown-ups, we ordered the following dishes: Pescatore Nicoise with grilled branzino; grilled chicken sandwich with artichoke pesto, tomatoes, fontina cheese and arugula; and penne alla vodka. The nicoise was a nice take on the standard nicoise salad – Pescatore’s version had extra-large chunks of tomato, potato and cucumber, plus a hard-boiled egg. The greens were somewhat overdressed, but the branzino was marvelous – the thin skin was nicely crisped and the fish was cooked perfectly. The chicken sandwich was delightful – the tomatoes were sweet and juicy, and the garlicky pesto and arugula added a welcome little kick to it, and the pickled carrots and cauliflower were a nice touch. The penne alla vodka was very basic, but the quality was spot on.
For dessert we tried the tiramisu, dark chocolate sorbet and Pescatore’s homemade cheesecake. The tiramisu was nothing amazing, but it’s easy to ruin that dish and Pescatore was certainly not guilty of that. The sorbet was quite satisfying to the chocoholic among us, and the cheesecake – touted on the menu as being “famous” – lived up to its reputation. It was very creamy in texture but still retained that firm cheesecake quality. It’s always a treat to have real New York cheesecake in New York City.
Pescatore’s full menu features extensive Italian offerings, from Linguine Nero (black linguine with calamari, shrimp and arugula in a spicy tomato sauce) to Ossobuco, Spinach Papardelle alla Bolognese, and Chicken Piccata. Entrée prices range from about $10 to $24, and they also feature a nice wine list.
So while Pescatore’s menu may not be the most inventive or creative of Italian cuisine, at least they can do the basics very well. The Mouse House Kitchen gives Pescatore 3.5 out of 5 stars!