I think the team behind Da Silvano is on to something. In fact, I am sensing a new trend, and the opening of Scuderia may be the start of it. As it becomes more and more apparent that the New Depression is here to stay, upscale NYC restaurants are trying to figure out ways to simply stay afloat. While some are offering recession specials and others have been forced to actually close up shop, Silvano Marchetto, Fabrizio Sotti, Leyla Marchetto, and Alessandro Bandini, let's call them Team Silvano, have discovered a new way to not only survive, but to also prosper. So what's their secret (and what's this new trend that I'm predicting)? Opening a restaurant outlet - a discount dining haven! The key to success is advertising the new spot through both the loyal diners and the brand of its well-established, upscale original restaurant.
While Scuderia is not an overly cheap night out, it certainly offers significantly lower prices than Da Silvano, located directly across the street. Sixth avenue between Bleecker and Houston may as well now be known as Team Silvano Row - home to Da Silvano, Da Silvano Bistecca, and now, Scuderia. Da Silvano has been prospering as a celebrity hot-spot in the West Village since its opening in 1979. But, as we all know, times are changing. It's now time to cater to all New Yorkers - and why not do it all in one block? Team Silvano has done just that hoping to attract its loyal customers and beyond.
When you walk through the doors of Scuderia, it is apparent - mission accomplished. You will immediately think to yourself, "What recession?" This place is hopping. The location, the price, the drink, and the food are right. And, its sister across the street can vouch for it. Although, don't expect to be able to hear your neighbor or the specials of the evening as happy, well-served diners tend to be more vocal and carefree. At least they recognize the high volume in the room and provide each table with its own blackboard of daily favorites. The menu offers everything from paninis to pastas to pizzas to hearty dishes - all at very reasonable prices. We began the evening with the brandade special served with grilled country bread. I am a huge fan of this puree of cod, olive oil, and milk and was very impressed with this version of it. Another great starter to share that can be found on the regular menu is the arancini di riso - fried rice balls with beef ragu.
For the main courses, I was most impressed with the pizza and pastas - all very affordable and very homemade - all in all, a very rare combination. The pepper pappardelle with beef cheek ragu was extremely rich and full of flavor. We also tried the special pasta of the evening - tagliatelle with baby clams and ramps. Not only was this a delicious dish, but it made me very happy to realize that it's officially ramp season. Spring is actually here, even if it doesn't quite feel like it yet! And, finally, one of my favorite items on the menu was the pizza Occhio di Bue with mozzarella, pecorino, spinach, pancetta - topped with a fried egg. This is a truly European dish - and one that Americans often shy away from. I promise, the egg is what every great American pizza is missing.
So, keep an eye out for new restaurant outlets opening near you. It will only be a matter of time before the next well-known culinary team sets up its very own discount shop. And, if they are smart, it will be within a stone's throw of their original space. After all, it is most important to keep your customers in close proximity in eager anticipation of the days when the economy starts to pick up again. If Isaac Mizrahi did it for Target and Martha Stewart can proudly showcase her name at K-Mart, successful restaurateurs need not be shy. Thomas Keller, I hear there is a vacant space in the Time Warner Center. It's finally ok to admit that it pays to be trendy.
10 Downing Street (on 6th Ave @ Houston)
New York, NY 10014
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):