As part of Sea Salt n Pepa's revamp, I will be combining it with my restaurant review blog, Wining Foodie. As you all know, lovely readers, we can't cook every single day--it would be exhausting! This blog was originally developed to share my thoughts on restaurants I visit...in addition, visiting restaurants gives me inspiration for my recipes, so combining the two is a smart idea (if I do say so myself, which I did). Enjoy the new addition of Restaurant Reviews!
Last night was date night again with the boyfriend. I got a fabulous BlackBoard Eats special, and got 30% off at Zampa Winebar and Kitchen, so we trekked down to W 13th for some delicious wine and some small plates.
First, Zampa does not take reservations for parties of 2 during prime hours--their last reservation is at 4:45 PM and the first after that is at 10:00. So we were pleasantly surprised when we walked in and, although it was packed, a table of two was just paying their check. We looked over the wine list while we waited and within five minutes were seated. Big plus for a place with no reservations, as I very rarely actually go to places not on Opentable (shout out to opentable--obsession!)
We sat down and I was happy to see that there were a couple of wines I had never heard of, much less tried, before. The first was a Savuto, which our extremely knowledgeable waitress told me was a southern grape that was fruity but not overly sweet with a lingering finish. Spot on much? The boyfriend ordered a Barbera and was also very happy with his selection. The waitress then went on to tell us the specials--they had five small plates specials, two large plates and a fish of the day. We decided to stick with small plates and had a bit of a battle over which to order. When we did order, we got our small plates in courses because of the tiny table--our four choices would not all have fit on the table at once. We started with the lightest and then had our meat course.
Fava bean and Pecorino Crostini daily special
To start, I ordered one of the specials--a fava bean and potato crostini with pecorino. It was a nice size, with three thick slices of bread, but the puree was a little blase. I ended up salting it to give it a bit more flavor, but my boyfriend said he couldnt taste anything in the puree, much less potatoes. Still, it was a hearty starter and there was nothing to really complain about, besides the fact that it was a little boring.
Roasted Shrimp with Cannellini, Hot Pepper and Garlic CrostiniMy boyfriend's starter was the antithesis of mine--flavorful, spicy and literally steaming. It was a crostini with a shrimp topping with cannellini beans and hot pepper. While flavorful, I was disappointed as the cannellini beans were undercooked. The shrimp, however, were delicious--just a hit of red pepper spice and perfectly cooked. But the best part was definitely the juices that came in the bowl. We used his crostini, and even asked for extra bread, to sop up the delicious mixture.
Grande Antipasti ToscanoFor my meat course, I ordered the Grande Antipasti Toscano...a huge plate with a delicious selection of meats, cheeses and antipasto. On the plate was more of the delicious bread, three kinds of meats--proscuitto, sopresseto and coppa, two different cheeses (one pecorino and one delicious soft cheese that I never did find out what it was), with olives and artichokes hearts. Everything on the plate was delicious and the cheeses were a spectacular counterpoint to the meats.
Duck sausage special
For his meat course, the boyfriend chose to try the duck sausage special. It was two pieces of sausage served with roasted red peppers and grainy mustard. It was good duck sausage, good red peppers and good mustard. He was happy. But...it wasnt anything special.
All in all, we did have a fabulous time at Zampa. I tried two wines I had never heard of, the Savuto and an Aglianico, which were about as polar opposite in taste as possible but both of which were absolutely delicious. We had good food...not great, but nothing that had us complaining.
Would I go back? Honestly, I doubt it. There are tons of good wine bars in the city, and many of them have food that really wows you. Zampa was cute inside, just like a wine bar should be, with specials and recommended wines written on chalkboards. But looks aren't enough when the food doesn't cut it. I think I'll keep searching for a wine bar that beats my favorite, Barcibo Enoteca on the Upper West Side (2020 Broadway, at 69th St, online at www.barciboenoteca.com)
If you're interested in trying Zampa Winebar and Kitchen for yourself, you can find it at 306 W 13th St, between Eighth and W. 4th, and online at www.zampanyc.com