All Reader Reviews of...
402 W. 43rd St., New York, NY, 10036
at Ninth Ave.
Takes Seafood to Another Level
By AllTrue on 4/3/2003
The crudo appetizer (various types of raw seafood) sampler was unbelievable--six separate "courses"--all EXQUISITELY presented and flavored ending with a rare taste of sea urchin. Reservations are essential indoors or out but you can almost always get an early seat at the unique ice-filled raw bar where the greatest bartender dispenses volumes of knowledgable friendly chatter and perfectly matched wines as well as oysters. Be prepared: only two non-seafood items on the menu. Don't pass up the desserts! One sour note: the sommelier suggested our $100 bottle of wine and then opened it and served the first taste to someone he knew seated next to us. Both the food and atmosphere were so good, we soon got over it.
Service, food & atmosphere abyssmal
By zeecee on 3/16/2003
Three of us started off with delicious drinks (mine a blood orange cosmo), moved on to sharing a miniscule mackeral appetizer that said nothing, salad was okay, main courses were disappointing as the sea bass was tasteless, the fish stew just okay, the fritto misto overly salted (as was most everything) and the sauce bland. Country bread & foccaccio choices were both dry and bland, served without olive oil or butter.</br> Service was unpleasant, both in attitude and actuality. Plates were removed before we were done. It was difficult to understand the waiter and he was cold and offputting.</br> </br> Others who've been recently told us afterwards they'd had or heard of bad experiences at Esca recently. It was filled, seemingly mostly with tourists.</br> Ceilings are low and there's nothing warm or intriguing about the decor or feel of the place. This is not worthy of Batali...or of what it cost us.
By sahw on 2/6/2003
I am changing my review, which I had originally given an 8 to a 1. The service and food were awful. Ordered bottle of wine was given to another customer, which ensued in a bit of a confrontation. My husband ordered a dish with Bluefish, which emitted such a fowl odor, that it ruined both of our meals. Our server didn't have a clue all night, nor did the manager. I have never seen a restaurant go downhill so fast. A waste of money and time.
Faboo rustic seafood in a casual pale-yellow room
By shamrock on 1/30/2003
The night I went, The Clogged One was sitting at the bar, scarfing oysters -- he was LARGE and IN CHARGE! I had a delectable appetizer of grilled sardines. I could have licked the plate, it was so good, but I was afraid it would send a weird message to my then-boyfriend's parents, who brought us there. ANyway, they had a cool, very customized Italian wine list and I had a dynomite dish of macaroni and sea urchin. I know: Wha? But it was AWESOME. If I was rich I'd go there all the time. At the bar/ rawbar they have oysters sitting there the likes of which you've probably only ever seen if you're a North Shore fisherman. The room is cozyish but enhh, given its unspecial Theater District locale at the bottom of a hi-rise, but whatever -- you're there to get Batali'd and boy, do you ever.
Best Seafood in the City
By czierer on 1/24/2003
I had no idea what to expect from Italian seafood, but my lunch at Esca ranks as one of the best ever. I ordered the crudo appetizer on the server's recommendation, not recognizing the names of any of the raw fish samplings it included. I was rewarded with 6 varieties of the most flavorful, perfectly marinated nuggets, each better than the last, arranged on the plate from mildest in flavor to strongest. Our young server definitely knew his stuff, and he paired the perfect Italian wines with each course for my husband and I, taking the time to explain each dish and wine he served us. For the main course I had a pasta dish, Paccheri, flavored with the perfect amount of anchovy in a light, intensely-flavored tomato-based sauce. My husband ordered a whole fish called Orata- another species we'd never heard of- again on the advice of our server. It turned out to be the best fish he's ever had anywhere- light, delicate, the sauce infused with rosemary and olive oil. It truly was a perfect meal. The ambience was warm and lively, very much a neighborhood place if you're lucky enough to live near it.
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