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Shelly’s Tradizionale

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The grand scheme to turn Shelly’s Tradizionale into an Italian fish house celebrating the Tuscan seashore has been officially launched. Pastas I’ve never tasted before, like the giant rigatoni called paccheri with clams and tuna bottarga, and an especially lush seafood risotto, stand out. A stunning still life of lobster Catalana, wreathed in raw vegetables and fruit, is wowing even carnivores who once came here for huge caramelized steaks (some still on the new menu). Flounder atop caramelized apple with chopped hazelnuts in brown butter— a dish from Camaiore, near the Tyrrhenian Sea—sounds overstaged, but it’s delicious. Whole roasted fish, local and imported, arrive intact, skin on, but already boned, and served with crusty roasted potatoes. At lunch there’s tuna burger puttanesca, almost a dozen salads, and a $24.07 three-course prix fixe. But even as I am introducing friends one night to the fragrant shellfish soup, al dente linguine with a big haul of shellfish, and monkfish decked out with chickpeas in lemony thyme, the mercurial Shelly Fireman insists he is still tweaking the menu. Part of the bar was sacrificed to create an ice throne for the day’s delivery and to show off the frutti di mare. The kitchen has been adding seafood pastas every day—tagliolini al branzino with arugula, paccheri in seafood ragù, spaghetti with tuna confit. Knowing Fireman, as I do—we met ten summers ago in Tuscany—the tweaking will never stop.

Shelly’s Tradizionale (View Menu)
41 W. 57th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-245-2422


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