162 West 65th
New York, NY
Tel. +1 (212)
di Trota; citrus cured sea trout, smoked trout roe, radishes, capers,
di frutti di mare; grilled squid, octopus, gigante beans, fennel, red onion,
al ragù di mare; scallop and lobster sausage, hot and sweet peppers, arugula,
di grano arso con n’duja; smoked flour pasta, pork sausage, Florida shrimp,
Calabrian chili, heirloom beans
have been fortunate to enjoy two spectacular meals at Lincoln Ristorante
recently. Chef Jonathan Benno’s food is rooted in the classics yet inventive
and full of surprises.
remember when eating at Lincoln Center was not something worth looking forward
to, as there was a dearth of interesting choices in the neighborhood. Jonathan
Benno’s Lincoln is one of the more recent additions to a part of town that is
now bustling with fabulous restaurants. Benno has spent time in some of the
most highly-respected kitchens in the US and France, including Daniel, The
French Laundry, Craft, Auberge du Vieux Puits and the Essex House, culminating
with six years as Chef de Cuisine at Per Se. Personally, I find it fascinating
that a chef with such an illustrious resume would choose the Italian repertoire
as the sandbox for his first restaurant, which I believe reflects a wider trend
towards food people can eat every day and not just on special occasions.
on Italy, while rooted in traditional ingredients and inspired by the classics,
is original and quite different from that of other American chefs who work in
the Italian vernacular. All I can say is it a real pleasure to dine at Lincoln.
I prefer the daytime, when the views of Lincoln Center are captivating. At
night, well, when the waiter brings a flashlight to help you read the menu, the
room is too dark. Wine Director Aaron Von Rock has put together one of the very
best and certainly most creative Italian wine lists in New York City. Sure, you
can order Monfortino if the craving strikes and the bank account allows, but
there are plenty of more affordable choices that are every bit as satisfying.
And if you are looking for some of the cult Italian whites I have written about
recently, including wines from Borgo del Tiglio and Miani, you will find them
starts with Jacquesson’s Brut
Cuvée No. 735. To be honest, I was hoping Lincoln would have moved to the
No. 736, as I just can’t have enough of that Champagne, but the No. 735 is
almost as good. The soft contours, bright fruit and lightly toasted notes make
for a delicious, inviting Champagne to drink now and over the next few years.
Lincoln’s insalata di frutti di mare (seafood salad) is evocative and
delicious, with beautifully articulated flavors that literally jump off the
plate. I would gladly order it again.
There is less to get excited about in
the citrus cured sea trout, which is tasty, but also conventional. One of my
go-to rules for food is that I want to have a second taste. That is one of the
signatures of a great dish. It is true of the seafood salad and everything else
we have on this night, but not the trout. Montevertine’s 2009 Montevertine dazzles from the very first taste. Montevertine
is sometimes overlooked in favor of the flagship Pergole Torte, but that is a
mistake, as I have learned over the years. The 2009 jumps from the glass with
sweet rose petals, red berries, mint, licorice and spices. Is it ready to
drink? Of course the 2009 is far too young to be fully mature, but it is still
a drop-dead gorgeous beauty.
two pastas are both sensational. With its combination of seafood and darker,
earthier flavors, the strozzapreti al
ragù di mare is fabulous and also a great dish for red wine. The smoke flour
pasta with pork sausage is even better, especially on a cold, rainy winter
night. Tenuta Sella’s 2006
Lessona Omaggio a Quintino Sella is a poignant reminder that we really need
to drink more wines from northern Piedmont. Even better than it was last year
ago, the 2006 soars out of the glass with a heady mélange of new leather,
tobacco, savory herbs, black cherries and spices, all underpinned by bright
saline notes that refresh the palate after every taste.
and small sweets served with coffee are a nice touch. I confess I have a weak
spot for nougat, and Lincoln’s version is hard to resist.
Lincoln Center is no longer an event that needs to be tied to a show. Lincoln
Ristorante is worth a visit on its own.