Mario Batali isn't just a celebrity chef with a boatload of restaurants across America. He is a celebrity chef whose restaurant, Babbo, received one of just six 4-star reviews ever awarded by the New York Times. And about a month ago, he and Joe Bastianich of Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group opened restaurant number 18 in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood.
La Sirena Ristorante is housed in the Maritime Hotel and when the outdoor patio opens for the season, the space will seat around 300 guests.
The bar is beautiful and the space is bright and open with lots of crisp white and black details.
My parents are huge fans of Batali and Italian food in general, so they were quick to choose La Sirena over Korean hot-spot Her Name Is Han when I suggested the two options last week. After our meal, I can't say I blame them.
La SIrena has one of Batali and Bastianich's largest cocktail programs - a menu which I paged through on an iPad. I decided to order the Viola - Hendricks Gin, Hibiscus, Lemon, and Prosecco. It was delicious – though beware – these drinks are definitely on the pricey side. Some cocktails cost upwards of $18!
The bread was served piping hot with soft butter topped with sea salt. Perfect.
1. BUrrata di stagione
Fresh Homemade Creamy Cheese with Butternut Squash & Pesto Pantesco
I love chese, don't get be wrong. How can you not? But I'm typically hesitant to order appetizers that are just cheese. Cheese based dips usually leave me feeling full and super unhealthy. But not burrata. This fluffy pillow of cheese was light and refreshing somehow – melting in your mouth without sitting like a brick in your stomach. The butternut squash was perfectly creamy in the center and the -surrounding Pesto Pantesco – which is a spin on pesto featuring tomatoes – kept things healthy-feeling.
There was no way we couldn’t order this – my parents love burrata, and I adore butternut squash and pesto. It was pretty damn perfect.
2. Roasted Beets
Cardoons, Lemon Goat Yogurt, Pistachio, & Tarragon
If there are beets on the menu, I will almost always order them. Pair them with lemon goat yogurt and pistachios and I will DEFINITELY order them. The cardoons were very thinly sliced, making them almost slimy which I didn’t love, but everything else about this dish was delicious and fresh.
3. Grilled Calamari with Maccu and Broccoli
Grilled Squid with Crushed Favas & Marinated Broccoli
Something about this dish didn’t WOW me but on the other hand, there was nothing not to like about it. It was likely to do with the fact that maccu is prepared with fava and fennel and fennel is one of my not-so-favorite flavors.
1. Scottadita with Panelle
Grilled Lamb Chops with Sicilian Chick Pea Flour Fritters, Pomegranate & Mint.
While La Sirena is of course A+ at pasta, I opted for the lamb chops. Oddly enough, I could pass on chicken and beef, but am a huge fan of pork and lamb. Plus, chick pea fritters sounded very intriguing and I love the pomegranate and mint combination.
The lamb chops were cooked to absolute perfection with wonderful seasoning. It was so flavorful, everyone loved it. Unfortunately, the supporting pieces of the dish weren’t as stellar. The chick pea fritters were a bit soggy and I was disappointed in the lack of pomegranate seeds! Though I did get a few bites with a great hint of mint. Ha, hint of mint!
2. Grilled Swordfish alla Messinese
Sicilian Style with Olives, Tomatoes, Currants, Capers, Pine Nuts and Marjoram
This was my Mom’s dish and from what I tasted of and heard from her, it was great! We liked that they used itty bitty capers.
3. Duck Mezzelune with 3-Minute Marinara
Duck Filled Half Moons with a Quick Marinara Sauce
My dad ordered this half-moon shaped pasted filled with tender, flavorful duck meat. If you like duck, I highly suggest this dish. It was great!
As a side, we ordered the Cauliflower Carbonara. It was super creamy and had quite the kick of spice to it! Don't let the fact that it's a vegetable fool you - this is a sinfully creamy, rich side dish.
You know I had to order dessert! I chose the Pizzelle e Cioccolato - crisp cookies, chocolate gelato, chocolate caramel, apricot jam, pistachios, & bananas. It was HUGE and had a ton of flavor. I finished every last bite, naturally.
This place is a restaurant where you go to feel fancy, eat fancy, and – drop a good chunk of change. But the space is gorgeous and the extensive menu is full of options that will make you want to go back to check it out again. Everything we had was well executed and the service was friendly and informative.