When nothing sounds better than ribbons of creamy pasta and a hunk of softball-sized mozzarella, look no further than Manhattan Avenue’s Scalino G.P., a 4-month-old Italian restaurant proving that “red-sauce” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Scalino is the Greenpoint offshoot of the Park Slope Italian restaurant of the same name, opened by Pittsburgh brothers Mateo and Blaise Yaksick back in 2007. Like its sister location, Scalino G.P. is a simple space: A few framed pictures pepper otherwise bare brick walls, while wooden tables add a casual, rustic touch to an already airy room.
The meatballs and buffalo mozzarella were both excellent, comforting dishes that nearly dissolved in my mouth. The creaminess of the (very fresh) mozz is nicely offset by a bitter, slightly vinegary arugula salad with fresh cherry tomatoes. The crumbly, moist meatballs paired well with the subtly sweet marinara sauce that comes on top. (I’ll be back for fried calamari with roast pepper tomato sauce and mussels in spicy tomato sauce this summer.)
The restaurant, which has a well-edited wine list, offers a nice selection of Italian classics – and a few specials that Scalino has made its own. House pasta specialties include rigatoni with turkey sausage and tomato cream, taglierini with meat sauce and spinach and ricotta ravioli. The restaurant also offers a short but comprehensive list of meat dishes, including braised lamb shank and grilled chicken with arugula and salmon.
I tried several dishes during my two visits to the restaurant, all quite good. My favorite was the lasagna, a multi-tiered pile of pasta and stewed meat. The sauce was sweet though not cloying, and the cheese didn’t overwhelm the meat (one of my biggest problems with certain lasagnas, which shall go unnamed). The Berkshire pork chop was a close second – it was bursting with juices and came with an earthy rosemary-perfumed jus.
On my second trip, I tried two pappardelle dishes – and yes, those ribbons, bought fresh from Rafetto’s in Greenwich Village, were the perfect canvas for the two featured sauces. The first dish was pappardelle tartufate – pasta coated with truffle oil, fresh herbs, parmesan and bits of zucchini mixed in. The other – and my preference – was pappardelle with tomato cream and smoked bacon, a decadent but irresistibly paired combination.
All in all, Scalino is a welcome addition to the area’s Italian restaurant scene. Still not convinced? Try their lunch special: $10 for a house pasta and side salad.