Fabio’s Cucina Italiana sits between 2nd and 3rd Avenue on 53rd Street, easily visible by their wooden arches dreamed up by Italian Designer Dominic Gasbaroly. The aftermath of yet another heavy snow immediately thawed upon entering the warm interior of the restaurant. Owned by Executive Chef Fabio Hakill, the restaurant is the epitome of authentic Italian cuisine. The eatery opened this week, but Socially Superlative was offered a sneak peek at what Fabio’s would be offering.
When visiting the restaurant, customers will immediately be drawn to the Italian writing on the wall. We could tell you what it means, but it’s more fun if you ask! There’s the main dining room, a more private dining area in back, and a private party space downstairs, right near the fuchsia walls.
Once we were seated, we were greeted with a basket of bread with olive tapenade and Prosciutto Bread. According to the server, the specialty bread changes daily. We started with the Tortino di Granchio, Maryland jumbo crab meat with pineapple and mango dressing. We were surprised when this dish came out because crabcakes are historically breadcrumb-based, and this one just had a light dusting on the top. The majority of this dish was crab meat, and when mixed with the sweetness of the mango and pineapple, the flavors were very complimentary. We were told that Fabio uses locally-sourced ingredients and the freshness of the produce came through in the dishes.
We also tried the Carpaccio di Polipo. This was my first time having octopus prepared this way, and I was an immediate fan. Partnered with arugula and lemon dressing, our “Antipasti” was light, which is good considering the rest of our meal.
As most NYC diners know, when you visit an Italian restaurant, by default you need to order a pasta dish, even if just to decide whether or not the food is authentic. For our pasta course, we chose the Fettuccine alla Fabio, homemade fettuccine with veal, porcini mushrooms and truffle. The pasta was a good indicator that Fabio is the real deal. The flavors were rich and flavorful and worked together in perfect pasta harmony. If you don’t believe Fabio is behind the masterpiece, you can have him prepare the homemade fettuccine table-side for a measly four dollars more.
Entrees were next and we decided to go with one heavier dish, the Costata di Agnello, Colorado rack of lamb in a demi-glaced mint sauce and a lighter dish, Capesante in Padella, pan seared dry sea scallops in lemon sauce. The lamb was wonderfully presented, cooked to perfection and the sauce made it stand out from other lackluster lamb dishes. The scallops were large and juicy, also well seared and worked well with the accompanying sauce.
The meal thus far had satiated our appetite, but we wanted to end on a sweet note. To keep from falling into a food coma, I was served a proper Italian cappuccino accompanied with complimentary biscotti and assorted cookies. We didn’t stop there, and ordered the Crostantina ai Frutti di Bosco, a mixed berries tart and Panna Cotta alla Ricotta with vanilla spumante sauce.
The tart was interesting because the cannoli cream filling was unexpected, but worked with the other flavors of the dish. The panna cotta was a perfect consistency, but I wouldn’t have anticipated anything less from a respected Italian restaurant. We thought we were done, but Fabio insisted we try the Cioccolatissimo, warm chocolate cake with ice cream, and he was right. The cake was warm, oozing chocolate and rich in flavor, every chocolate lover’s dream and a must for anyone visiting the restaurant.
Bottom line, Fabio’s Cucina Italiana has too much to offer and they do it on purpose so that diners will need to visit more than once to try all the amazing items on the menu. I know I’ll be back at least a couple more times to try the rest of the menu and the 64 glasses of wine by the glass. A girl can only eat and drink so much in one sitting!
– Stephanie Carino
Photos courtesy of Sunny Norton and Stephanie Carino