NYC Spotlight | La Sirena

la sirena
The two spacious dining rooms are separated by a striking 38-foot long white Caesarstone bar that welcomes you into the establishment. {Credit: FB/ La Sirena}

As one of the most-hyped restaurant openings this year, La Sirena certainly delivers on the expectation of being New York City’s new favorite hotspot. This opening, in the trendy, porthole-windowed Maritime Hotel, marks the first in a decade for B&B Hospitality Group’s Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich in New York. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or starting your night out with drinks, La Sirena is a very spacious indoor-outdoor restaurant that seats around 250 patrons.

Described as a more modern version of a traditional Italian trattoria, this restaurant exudes chicness the moment you step in. The two large dining rooms are separated by an impressive 38-foot long white Caesarstone bar — along with its countless bottles of liquor and wine — and with this as the first thing that welcomes you, how could you not have a good time? With grey and white furniture and a matching mosaic floor of Portuguese tiles, La Sirena’s dining rooms are stylish, and thanks to the high ceilings and looming windows that house the restaurant, there’s plenty of natural lighting.

Executive chef Josh Laurano’s Italian menu consists of antipasti, contorni, insalate, primi, and secondi, as well as dessert. The antipasti menu includes a variety of small dishes that include a daily seafood crudo, grilled calamari, and a short rib carpaccio with a savory black truffle vinaigrette.

We decided to order the creamy buricotta, which was a ball of house-made cheese paired with crushed peas and mint, and a special antipasti for the night: fettunta (charred filane bread) with a lamb prosciutto and charred ramps. I had never had lamb prosciutto before, but it was sliced super thinly and had an excellent, distinctly lamb flavor. When we found out that Principal Salumist of Salumi Artisan Cured Meats,  Armandino Batali, was the man behind the prosciutto it made sense it was so good; he’s chef Batali’s father!

Insalate selections include a vegetable cruda with an avocado vinaigrette and a warm frisée salad with a poached egg. Contorni (sides) include a cauliflower carbonara, a sweet pea farrotto, and rapini with toasted garlic.

Since pasta is La Sirena’s forte, I decided to order the bucatini. The bucatini — which I found out is essentially pasta straws — was cooked al dente and went perfectly with spicy the tomato sauce and chunks of tender octopus meat. I also tasted the cavatelli with spare ribs, which came in a rich, flavorful tomato sauce.

Other primi pasta dishes include a leek and mascarpone stuffed pasta, ravioli with pancetta and spring onion butter, and a pesto lasagne. For those looking for more hearty fare, La Sirena offers secondi dishes such as branzino for two, a lardo-crusted NY Strip for two, beef braciole with broccoli rabe, fried rabbit, duck with Moorish spices, and swordfish Sicilian style.

Obviously no meal is complete without dessert, and with 10 different indulgent choices — including formaggio for two — this Italian trattoria agrees. Being the doughnut-lover I am, I order the bomboloni, which came with three, warm, sugar-coated Italian-style doughnuts, with a dollop of vanilla gelato scoop atop a roasted pineapple.

Also delectable was the pizzelle e cioccolate, which came with crisp, ornate cookies, a dollop of chocolate gelato, a caramel sauce, and roasted bananas. Other options include a Campari-soaked Neapolitan cake, a classic pine nut tart with olive oil gelato, and a honey-walnut semifreddo.

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