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This week, my visit to Spadaro. Here’s a link to the photos I took on that visit.
Hereâ€™s the thing about Spadaro: There is no menu. Even more unusual: There is no freezer.
Antonio and Rina Spadaro â€” sheâ€™s in the front, heâ€™s at the stove â€” decided they wanted to open a restaurant like they used to have in Rome. Rina and her sister Rosa serve and bus the tables and tell you the menu, based on what Antonio decides to offer that day. There are pastas â€” the signature is fettuccine with prosciutto, mushrooms, Parmesan, egg and black pepper â€” and a large variety of meats (filet, baby lamb, pork) and fish (swordfish, shrimp, branzino), all simply grilled.
Like in Italy, a meal at Spadaro starts with antipasti, moves to a pasta course, then an entrÃ©e and a side dish. We followed the plan. Our antipasti arrived on a flurry of yellow ceramic plates â€” so many that we had to consolidate and stack to make room for wine. First prosciutto (delicious), then eggplant caponata (sloppy), roasted peppers (average), olives (dry) and cheese (very tasty), beans with pork (spicy), asparagus (slimy on the tops, woody on the bottoms), and mussels and clams, which smelled off, so I didnâ€™t try them.
Pastas fared better. The bucatini allâ€™amatriciana had smoky guanciale and just enough sauce to not overwhelm. And the portion was huge: It could have fed a family. I was hoping the parpardelle with cinghiale (wild boar) would echo my trip to Tuscany, especially after hearing the meat was authentically shredded in the sauce. Instead, it was cut in small chunks and tasted overcooked.
There are just 36 seats at Spadaro. Be prepared to meet new friends, forged by proximity, which is either good or bad depending on your mood and their manners. We lucked out with a friendly couple and their two (well-behaved) boys and soon were offering them wine (they hadnâ€™t known it was BYO). They, in turn, offered a grilled jumbo shrimp, a generous gesture that went south when my nose detected bleach and my tongue confirmed it. (Bleach is used is some restaurants to retard rot, especially in seafood. Not a practice I respect.)
I then worried about the swordfish, endorsed emphatically by Rosa. But lightly cooked and topped with a gremolata â€” a garnish of chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon â€” it was the tastiest dish I had all night. The baby lamb was also good, if a little misleading â€” for $35, I expected delicate, frenched chops, not a bony roast.
We shared a tossed salad (also family size) and, for dessert, a ricotta cheesecake, light as air.
here were certainly nice touches at Spadaro: Rosaâ€™s friendly service (she kissed us when we left); grilled bread with a clove of garlic, served as a greeting. But if Antonio insists on not keeping a freezer, he should consider forgoing the seafood. Iâ€™d certainly be happy with bucatini and the lamb â€” even if thatâ€™s what everyone else in the room is eating, too.
211 East Main St., New Rochelle. 914-235-4595.
Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday.
EntrÃ©es $20 to $35
Chef Antonio Spadaro is in the kitchen, his wife Rina and her sister Rosa work the room. There is no menu. Even more, there is no freezer. So Antonio cooks what he feels like that day, from pastas (the signature has prosciutto, mushrooms and egg) to grilled meats and fish. There are only 36 seats, so it gets crowded and there can be a wait.
What we liked
Baby lamb, swordfish, bucatini allâ€™amatriciana, cheesecake