955 2nd Ave (50th & 51st Sts)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 752-7151
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Seafood
Area: East 50s
Entree Price: $20-25
Payment: Amex Visa Mastercard
Shades of the dear, departed Gino's that ruled on Lexington Ave near Bloomies for decades! Pescatore features one small wall covered in a yellow version of Gino's iconic zebra red wallpaper. Perhaps it's an homage since Pescatore is also very sincerely Italian.
Food is nicely prepared whether it's a late lunch of Caesar salad, bufala mozzarella sitting in a pool of pesto served with a thoughtful side of prosciutto, meatballs in a fine tomato sauce or the classic bruscetta. Pastas can be had as half or full portions and I'd give the linguine with squid ink a big hello. The rigatoni alla Nona has the appropriate eggplant, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella and tomatoes; if your taste buds are craving a sauce that's not on the menu (vodka, Putanesca, etc), ask and it shall be yours. Pastas are cooked al dente as they should be and not drowning in globs of sauce as sometimes happens.
Secondi brings fish such as roast sea bass and other delicious standards such as chicken with artichokes, veal Milanese with an arugula salad and other Italian classics. At lunch there are also sandwiches on ciabatta served with either fries or a salad. While there are not many surprises, ingredients are fresh and handled respectfully--this plus reasonable prices, (especially for this part of town), makes Pescatore very popular. The dinner menu is almost the same as that of lunch with a few additions like the pizzetta with Arthur Avenue sausage and broccoli rabe.
There is a full bar and a decent assortment of wines by the bottle or glass. Desserts are the good Italian offerings including a crostata with seasonal fruit, gelato with updates like salted caramel and olive oil as well as hazelnut and espresso and there's a chocolate pizza--a perfect finale for those with an unrepentant sweet tooth.
If you wish, you can sit outside and enjoy the rush of traffic on Second Avenue. Private parties with prix-fixe menus can also be accommodated. Delivery is possible if you simply can't or won't take the time to go out to eat. The bread is excellent with a heavy, chewy crust and arrives with good quality olive oil and olives. This is not a glamorous restaurant but has a certain old-world charm and a definite focus on delivering good food. Service is friendly and helpful.
Pescatore is in an area loaded with restaurants but stands out from many by virtue of careful preparation and attention to detail. Typically open from 12 noon to 10:30 PM, Pescatore can be on the noisy side when filled as there are no surfaces to soak up sound. Eating early or late helps dissipate this problem and it's worth it.
Review By: Mari Gold