San Carlo Osteria in New York City’s Soho neighborhood offers some of the finest Piemontese food we have eaten outside of Italy’s Piedmont Region. Our friend Gianfrancesco Mottola suggested that we try it and considering his sophisticated taste, we knew that it would be something special.
Our first dish was a plate of three appetizers typical of Piedmont including Battuta di Fassone, beef tartar topped with a quail egg. Made from the classic Fassone breed of grass fed cattle from Piedmont, the meat was tender and buttery. “Tonno” di Coniglio consisted of chunks of poached rabbit in a tasty olive oil marinade served with pickled vegetables in the style of tuna. The chef’s version of Vitello Tonnato at San Carlo is thinly sliced rare veal served with a creamy tuna sauce with capers. Because the veal was not coated with the sauce, its delicate flavor was able to shine through.
The next course was Ravioli del Plin in Brodo di Bollito Misto, homemade meat filled ravioli with a pinch, known as a “plin” in Piemontese dialect, in a flavorful mixed meat broth. It was perfect for a chilly night, though the ravioli can also be had in a classic butter and sage sauce.
The Chestnut Gnocchi with porcini mushroom sauce and creamy Parmesan fondue were unusual. The homemade gnocchi were made with chestnut flour that gave them a sweet and slightly smoky flavor. Charles liked them so much that he ate both of our portions.
Dessert was another Piemontese classic, Bonet, a luscious chocolate, caramel and amaretto custard.
San Carlo’s wine list starts at $40 and there is a selection of half bottles and wines by the glass. The list is all Italian wines from all over Italy, as well as a few champagnes. The main concentration are the wines of Piedmont such as Timorasso, Erbaluce di Caluso, Arneis, Gavi. Moscato d’Asti, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo Barbaresco and Barolo.
San Carlo Osteria is sleek and modern looking. On warm nights the entire front wall of windows facing the street can be thrown open. It’s not a big restaurant, so reservations are recommended. Call 212-625-1212 or contact them on line at http://www.sancarlonyc.com/. The address is 90 Thompson Street.