The hub and I arrived NYC around 1pm, groggy from the early flight. By the time we settled into our hotel, it was around 3pm when we decided to take a stroll. We passed by the incredibly long line of Shake Shack, and came upon Bar Stuzzichini. I mentioned it sounded familiar, whether it was raved about on web sites or introduced by a friend. Hubby immediately said, "lets go in and give it a taste!" (even though we're full from lunch at the airport, and have a dinner reservation at Otto in a couple hours).
We decided to go with their specialty -- Stuzzichini. According to nymag.com, "Stuzzichini are the Southern Italian equivalent of antipasti (the word comes from stuzzichare, meaning “to pick”), a series of small dishes served, usually, at the bar. The chef at Bar Stuzzichini is Paul Di Bari (formerly of the Austrian restaurant Wallsé), and he imbues many of the dishes on his sparely edited menu with a light, gourmet touch."
We decided on their 'Choice of 5 stuzzichini for $25' (I also listed the individual prices if they're ordered individually)
Verdure - Melanzane - Marinated Eggplant ($5) - recommended by server - nothing special, slightly overly drained in olive oil.
Fritti - Meatballs ($6) - as recommended by server - It was interesting to try a meatball that's so crisply fried on the outside, and the flavor of the meat was decent with a slight lambish /herby flavor, but I think I prefer my meatballs soft and moist.
Salumi - Prociutto di parma ~ 18 months ($10) - I love prociutto, and these were great -- but I couldn't distinguish the difference between these and whole foods-store bought.
Pesce - Vongole - Steamed Clams ($8) - these were good, tossed in a light white wine sauce -- but I've had better. Not impressed.
Pesce - Polpo - Grilled Octopus ($9) - recommended by server - it was interesting to have octopus that doesn't have a chewy texture! This was very tender and soft, and definitely takes getting used to. I think I missed the chewiness.
Overall, it was alright -- nothing memorable, nothing exceptional. I've heard that Southern Italy is a poorer area (traditionally), and because of landscape, they're abundant in olive trees but not a place to raise cows (for milk, thus butter & cream). Therefore, Southern Italian cuisine is more about using olive oil and light seasoning to enhance the freshness of the ingredients instead of overpowering them.
I do love the usage of light seasoning to enhance ingredients, because I'm not a fan of heavy cream/butter either...but I felt that a majority of these small plates were drained in olive oil, so I couldn't necessarily taste how fresh the ingredients were. Maybe it just takes some getting used to. Still, I'll probably try Southern Italian at another restaurant instead.
(212) 780-5100 Menu