A few weeks ago, the bro and I had an early dinner at Stecchino. We'd been there once before when it first opened, to mixed results, to say the least. But this time all cylinders were firing, and we actually had quite a nice meal.
First of all, it must be said that our waiter was incredibly accommodating and put up with our (my) antics with good humor and panache. I changed my mind about my wine choice about half a dozen times, not that that's obnoxious, and ended up with an incredibly crisp and refreshing Albarino. The bro went for a merlot that was surprisingly smooth and tasty.
While we waited for our food to arrive, the house sent over a complimentary cheese plate for us to nibble with our wine. How sweet! We munched the cheese (parmesan?), and the bro took care of the bread, grapes, and apple slices. Huge extra points here.
Oh, there was also bread and oil, of which I did not partake. But here's how it looked:
For entree, the bro had chosen pennette with sausage and wild mushrooms in a robust red wine tomato sauce. He found it surprisingly good, and he was unable to finish the large portion. It looked and smelled deliciously flavorful and hearty.
My choice was the roasted beets with leeks, string beans, herbed goat cheese, and a raspberry vinaigrette. The flaw that I anticipated in this salad was present, spot-on: it was too sweet. A raspberry vinaigrette doesn't go with a beet salad, since the beets are already sweet; you need something with acidic bite to offset the sweetness. That being said, otherwise the salad was pretty good; it needed a little bit of salt, which I added, and after that all was well. The leeks were especially good here-- add more leeks, do away with the beans, go for a regular balsamic vinaigrette, and add a bit of salt to the mix and you've got a real contender here.
We were both pretty full, so that was that. This time, Stecchino came through-- it's a friendly and comfortable place to have a glass of wine and a bite. I'd go back.
765 Ninth Avenue (between 51st and 52nd streets)