402 West 43rd Street,

New York, NY 10036

December 2008

Readers will have a very hard time finding better fish and seafood than at Esca, located in mid-town Manhattan. I have eaten at Esca many times, but each time I leave wondering why so much time has passed between visits, as the food is never anything less than outstanding. Chef Dave Pasternack’s cuisine is bright, pure and based on the most pristine ingredients. The crudo is always a must-have dish. I am not usually a huge fan of fried foods but both the crispy troutlings and crispy ruby red shrimp were terrific, especially the shrimp, which we dutifully ate whole, as instructed. My grilled pompano, cooked to perfection, was sublime.

The Bellini is really more of a warm weather drink, and this tasty aperitif is rarely better than it is at Esca, especially in the summer months, when the large terrace allows for outdoor dining. On this bitter-cold day we enjoyed a pitcher of a tasty winter variation, the Pomegranate Bellini, which promptly got us settled in for this delicious lunch. Beniamino Zidarich’s 2005 Malvasia was a wonderful match to our food. This white from Friuli’s Carso district is fermented on the skins, an approach which gives the wine a gorgeous richness and expansiveness that worked perfectly with our fully-flavored dishes. All in all, this was another fantastic meal at Esca. 



Crispy troutlings

Crispy ruby red shrimp with sage, capers and lemon

Bufala mozzarella with wild arugula and oven-dried tomatoes

Whole grilled pompano with salsa verde 



Pomegranate Bellinis



Zidarich Malvasia


[Photo and credit: Esca, New York]

--Antonio Galloni