If a rule book for making the world’s best pasta exists, the kitchen at Fresco by Scotto in New York City’s Midtown is surely following it. Dishes like the cavatelli ($24) may cause some to suspect that they even wrote it themselves.
The homemade shells, shaped like “tiny boats,” as the menu points out, are perfectly soft yet sturdy enough to trap a pleasantly bittersweet blend of olive oil, garlic, broccoli rabe and crumbled fennel sausage. The sauce is appropriately portioned, so not to capsize those boats, while a shaving of quality Parmesan and a garnish of basil bring in salty and herbaceous tones. The combo is just green enough, just meaty enough, and just hearty enough.
At this Midtown power-lunch destination, it’s the family dynamics that have set the tone for the past 20 years. As the GM, Anthony Scotto takes care of the kitchen and overall operations; his mamma Marion Scotto commands the host desk; his sister Elaina oversees Fresco On the Go; and his sister Rosanna, an Emmy-winning news anchor on Fox 5 and Good Day New York, stops by as many tables as possible in her role as “President of Schmoozing.”
The restaurant is also known for regional dishes such as spaghettini alla vongole ($27) and poached branzino ($35). And while gluten-free “corn pasta,” with butternut squash, zucchini, tomato, escarole and goat cheese ($24) might not be in the annals of authentic pasta-making, in the interest of modern-day dietary needs, sometimes rules need to be broken.