Fresco by Scotto

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If you are in the New York City area, or will be visiting any weekend over the summer, run don’t walk to Fresco by Scotto.  Fresco is offering a three course Prix Fixe dinner in it’s fabulous midtown location for $29.95. For this price a salad, a choice of pasta and dessert is included.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Fresco is one of the Fork’s all time favorite New York restaurants. And beyond their main restaurant, there are two – yes, two – Fresco On the Go locations for take-out or delivery lunch.

Now, Fork and Spoon planned on going to Fresco by Scotto with all intentions of taking part in the Friday and Saturday Prix Fixe dinner, but we decided to invite Absinthe Spoon along.

teaWhile waiting for Absinthe Spoon, Spoon and I ordered iced tea. Large glass, very fresh, very cold and very surprising – BOTTOMLESS! This would have been one of the last places I would have expected this, but extra points for this small detail!  We sipped our tea and looked over the menu, and Spoon saw all the dishes on the menu that Fork had talked about loving so much on the last visit. We quickly calculated the cost in our heads and were determined to convince Absinthe Spoon that it was better to order  a la carte. Trust me, it wasn’t hard!

Our waiter, though, was harder to convince. I’ll say at the outset that he was the most disappointing part of the evening. He was practically a bully when it came to what we ordered and how we ordered.  Insisting that certian things could not be ordered for three to share, that it wouldn’t be enough. I have never before seen a waiter be so discouraging and bullying to customers. If he had stopped and thought, he would have realized that we were going to spend FAR more ordering our way than if we had ordered the Prix Fixe dinner, and his tip would have been larger. He certainly did not detract from our enjoyment of Fresco, at the end of the day he knew how we felt from our tip and we still enjoyed a wonderful meal.

ChipsWe started off our adventure with potato and zucchini chips baked with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese.  Warm and crunchy with Gorgonzola sprinkled and melty all throughout. These are on the menu both in the restaurant and Fresco on the Go. You simply can’t stop eating them!  They come in a bowl and piled like a potato chip mountain in front of you. You just want to pick and pick. Fortunately as you get 2/3 through they start to get a little soggy, otherwise the entire mountain would be eaten and there would be no room for the excitement that comes next!

Along with the chips we ordered the special Fresco Bread. The special part is the grilled flatbread brushed with olive oil, breadgarlic and herbs. This is served with a yummy white bean spread. For good measure they add some of their homemade – or Scotto made – bradsticks. For the price was it worth it? No. Their regular breadbasket has an assortment of fresh breads and the breadsticks, the cost of 4 pieces of grilled flatbread is just silly.

We had planned on ordering the Shaved Raw Artichoke, Celery Heart & Crimini Mushroom Salad on the regular menu. It is a wonderful salad filled with fresh, crunchy ingredients, arugula, grana padano and a light citrus dressing.  It is absolutely well worth ordering, but this night the special salad piqued our interest a bit more!  It was a lovely arugula salad with mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes.  Our waiter, Mr. Pleasant, tried to convince us that he had the salad made specially for us, but as we gazed around the room, other diners had ordered this salad and and it was exactly the same.

SteakThe Fresco menu is quite extensive, and I have tried many things on it. I have never had a bad dish at Fresco, so experiment with your own taste buds. Personally, I love the Pappardelle with Duck & Wild Mushroom Ragu, the special Risotto, Cavatelli with Crumbled Fennel Sausage & Broccoli Rabe, and the Pan Roasted Cotoletta of Chicken Breast.  But I must say, that my all time favorite entree is the Prime Rib Steak Fiorentina.  Fred Flintstone sized steak (oh, yes, our waiter was SO wrong that three could not share this), perfectly seasoned with fresh grilled rosemary, Maldon sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, grilled to perfection, sliced off the bone. The bone is part of the presentation, and if we weren’t in a fancy place we would have fought over who would pick it up and gnaw on it!

polentaThe side dishes at Fresco are fantastic and worth ordering. The Mashed Potato & Fontina Pie and Gratin of Gnocchi with Gorgonzola & Hazelnuts, coupled with the Shaved Artichoke Salad,  would be a meal fit for two princesses. Creamy, yummy, comfort food at its best! Again, my favorite side dish are the Rosemary Polenta Fries. They are served tucked into a napkin as if tucked into a bed, they are fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside, perfectly seasoned and delicious. Fortunately there are only four on the plate – this would be another dish to ruin the rest of your appetite! THe only trouble we had with this dish was the four polenta fires and the three of us – we all sat staring at the last fry. Who will take it? Should I? What if they do? Fortunately one of us – and I shall not say whom – is very diplomatic and cut the last soldier and three and we quickly gobbled it up!

donutsdessertOh, dessert! Dessert is a feast in and of itself! Dessert is one of Marion Scotto’s favorite things in the world and it is reflected in the wonderful desert choices on the menu!  As with every other dish served at Fresco, the presentation of the desserts is spectacular, almost too good to eat – ALMOST!! On this venture to Fresco we tried the Vanilla Bomboloni. Delightful vanilla donuts filled with raspberry preserves. And if you couldn’t improve on that perfection, there’s a warm chocolate sauce to dip the donuts into! The donuts are made to order so they are hot and crispy and rolled in sugar and cinnamon. Sadly, one dessert would simply not do. We also had the Apple Toffee Pudding Cake, a delicious warm apple tart with a toffee sauce on top, fresh fruit (see dessert is healthy!), and whipped cream.   Also not to miss is the Praline Meringue Ice Cream Sandwich. Cinnamon ice cream sandwiched between two meringues studded with pralines, raspberry AND chocolate sauces, andfresh raspberries sprinkled around the dish. Decadent!  Don’t leave Fresco without dessert!

All in all a spectacular adventure, definitely to be had again!

Fresco has two wonderful cookbooks Italian Comfort Food and Fresco:Modern Tuscan Cooking for All Seasons. Well worth owning, great recipes, easy to follow.

Fresco is located at 34 East 52nd Street, 212.935-3436, reservations suggested.

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