402 West 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036
tel. (212) 564-7272
Readers dining at Esca are in for a treat. Chef David
Pasternack's cuisine features the freshest fish and seafood prepared simply but
brilliantly. We started with the crudo which alone is worth a visit. Always
pristine and perfectly seasoned, the selection (which changes daily) included
pink snapper with sea salt, hamachi with a gaeta olive aioli and bluefin tuna
drizzled with olive oil from the Sicilian estate Planeta. I would have happily
eaten a second portion, but there was plenty of food to come. The crudo was
followed by a tasty fritto misto, a simple dish that is nevertheless rarely
prepared correctly. Edi Kante's 2002
Vitovska was a great match with our first two courses. Vitovska is the
indigenous white varietal of the Carso region of Friuli, a rugged landscape
that typically gives wines with a distinct minerality. Kante's Vitovska was
pure and steely, capturing the essence of its terroir, with notes of jasmine
and smoke that were delicately interwoven and provided a nice balance. It
offered excellent length and the necessary acidity to accompany the food.
For our pasta course Chef Pasternack served a delicious
linguine with a sauce of cicale di mare that was a joy to eat. Aside from being
impossibly ugly, these crustaceans are very difficult to clean but their sweet,
succulent meat is well worth the effort. That said, preparing a sauce from
cicale di mare can only be described as a labor of love. My main course was an
impeccably prepared pan-roasted shark cooked to a perfect medium rare.
Incredibly tender as well as flavorful, its melt-in-your-mouth texture was remarkable.
We chose Movia's 2001 Veliko Bianco
to accompany these two fully-flavored dishes. Movia is located in Brda, the
name for the part of the Collio that falls on the Slovenian side of the border
with Friuli. The estate's 2001 Veliko Bianco, a barrique-aged field blend of
Ribolla, Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio worked quite well with our food. Its rich,
ripe, almost tropical fruit paired especially well with the linguine. Still
quite fresh and vibrant, the Veliko Bianco appears to have many years of prime
drinking ahead of it.
That was followed by a wine that had nothing to do with our
lunch, but that happens to be one of the most unforgettable wines I have tasted
in a long time. A dear friend brought along a bottle of Giuseppe Quintarelli's 1997 Alzero which we tasted before, during
and after lunch. The 1997 Alzero was simply phenomenal. Blessed with
extraordinary, captivating aromatics, it seemingly revealed new layers of
spice, licorice, coffee, chocolate, cassis, mineral and sweet dark fruit aromas
and flavors with each successive taste. Ripe, jammy and concentrated, it showed
an open, luxurious texture with plenty of supporting structure all while
remaining remarkably light on its feet. Still primary and vibrant it promises
to drink well for another 20+ years. It is a wine I found myself thinking about
often in the days that followed.
Linguine with cicale di mare sauce
Movia Veliko Bianco