My favorite hot spot in the meatpacking district is the new innovative restaurant Santina. The big name trio of Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone and Jeff Zalaznick from the Major Food Groups has once again inspired my taste buds with this new, casual, coastal inspired restaurant which transports you to the Amalfi coast. Santina is the most fun and playful of all their ventures. The Torrisi team is on a roll with six new hot restaurants in the last three years, recently with Dirty French, Carbone, Parm and ZZ’s Clam Bar.
Located in the meatpacking district, Santina is tucked away under the High Line in a glass enclosed box designed by the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano. The decor is fun, festive and breezy, with a Mediterranean flair for colors. The restaurant is adorned with potted palm and orange trees giving it a South Beach meets Positano vibe. The ceilings have delicate Venetian Murano glass chandeliers. The main pièce de résistance is a beautiful, large, yellow and blue sail boat mural designed by Julian Schnabel, who is most noted for his cracked plate designs. The mural brings an inspiring breezy beach feel to the dining room The servers all wear tropical colored polo shirts and white khakis, making you feel like you were being served at a swanky Italian resort in Capri. The music is lively with Italian classics, jazz and blues from the 50’s and 60’s serenading in the background. When the weather is nice, dine alfresco or just stop in to have a cocktail on its vibrant patio.
The wine list and cocktails are superbly crafted. My favorite cocktail was a View From Positano, a blend of gin, fresh strawberries and hints of black pepper. The Basil Bellini was a nice twist on the classic Cipriani Bellini. The wine list was simple yet well curated, with an emphasis on Italian and Mediterranean wines with price points to please everyone. Some must try wines are the Assyrtiko from Greece and the Sciaccarellu from Corsica.
The menu at Santina is inspired by coastal cuisine from Sicily and the Amalfi Coast. It is fresh, innovative and fun. The menu being coastal cuisine, you would expect it to be predominantly seafood, but it was well balanced with beautiful vegetables, colorful salads, and homemade pastas. I was wildly impressed with the food, though the menu was bare and non descriptive. The servers took the time to explain the offerings. The food is creatively presented on hand painted Mediterranean plates, bowls, and platters. Lunch or dinner, you must start every meal with the Cecina, a chick peas crepe presented on colorful cake stands. The Cecina comes with five different fillings, the favorites being Funghi and Lamb Tartare. Do not pass up the two homemade sauces that accompany this dish. The Squash Carpaccio was beautiful, light and delish. The Broccoli and Rice was excellent, not your typical risotto. The Eggplant Sesamo was wildly creative. For those seafood lovers, you must have the Whole Grilled Porgy or Spaghetti Blue Crab. If you still have room for dessert try the Tri-Colored Cannolis. The Cannolis are crisp and crunchy, filled with creamy coconut, cherry and pistachio fillings., representing the colors of an Italian flag.
Santina will definitely delight you visually as well as scintillate your palate. Come for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the party never stops at Santina.