My buddy from Gotham Burger Social Club organized a kickass meal here at Scampi because he loved the place so much and wanted us to all try the greatness of PJ Calapa’s cooking.
We started with a round of seafood apps:
These were my favorite. They were dressed with fennel, chives and prosciutto, and they were minced up with Manila clams and placed back into the shell. You could just shoot them rather than having to pry them from the shell and eat them in one big sloppy bite.
This was a really nice, crisp and fresh crudo dish with tomatoes, castelvetrano olives and lime. Simple but perfect.
Mackerel is one of my least favorite fish to eat, but this preparation was nice – even with the eggplant in there, which I also usually dislike. Pine nuts, basil and tomato really brought his together.
While this wasn’t technically a seafood item, it contained anchovy in the “bagna cauda” dressing. The parmesan, fried capers and breadcrumbs gave it a really nice texture.
Next up was a selection of four pasta dishes:
This had Manila clams, filone and tarragon pesto. This was a great, light clam sauce dish with perfectly cooked “large semi-elbows.”
Long skinny lasagna style ribbon pasta with shrimp, parsley, buttre and lemon. Classic and so good.
Show stopper! The trumpet pasta was served in a buttery half-red sauce with fennel sausage, broccoli rabe and parmesan. It was perfect in every way.
Half-moon shaped ravioli filled with braised pork in a pomodoro sauce with pecorino. Really nicely executed.
Now on to the main entrée, the 60-day dry-aged tomahawk:
This beauty is only $135 for 42oz, but it’s limited availability, first come first serve, so you will need to ask them if they have any left if you want to try it (it isn’t on the regular menu). Pat LaFrieda, Creekstone Farms.
Chef PJ’s cooking technique is very involved on this beast. It sees constant movement and several methods of cooking, from the pan to the broiler to a butter bath. This is a 9/10.
We also had some nice sides with this steak:
These roasted onions were plated with gorgonzola, aged balsamic and crispy shallots.
Simply grilled but then topped with cured, grated egg yolk, toasted almonds and tarragon. Even the veggies get creative techniques applied to them.
These came with shaved fennel and castelvetrano olives in a light lemon dressing.
For dessert, we tried three items:
These were some of the best I’ve ever had. Very classic treatment with chocolate chips and ricotta cream.
This was an olive oil cake with mascarpone, berries, almonds and strawberry swirl gelato.
Semifreddo, dried apricot, pistachio, chocolate and almonds.
I highly recommend trying this place out. Everything I tasted was great – not one dish fell short or disappointed.
UPDATE DECEMBER 2019
Brunch is also great here. I came with my wife and tried a few pasta dishes and their brunch burger.
The burger comes with a fried egg, arugula and spicy “bomba” sauce, which is comprised of capers, artichoke, calabrian chili and other Italian goodies. It was incredible.
Probably one of the best burgers I had in 2019. Smashed/fried fingerlings are just okay.
The carbonara pasta was a bit too creamy. Nevertheless, we destroyed every strand of spaghetti.
30 W 18th St
New York, NY 10011