After Salvatore Corea closed his Upper East Side restaurant, Alloro, on January 25, 2015, many loyal patrons traveled downtown to his East Village place, Cacio e Pepe, to continue to enjoy his delicious, creative dishes. Cacio e Pepe, which opened in 2004, was forced to close during the pandemic. Thanks to a fundraiser for the staff and, once restaurants were permitted to open with outdoor dining, the East Village mainstay survived. Corea, however, never abandoned his plan for another restaurant uptown. And last May, Cacio e Pepe opened at 1479 York Avenue, near 78th Street, with the same menu as the downtown location, including its namesake dish.
Based on a recent visit on a Friday night, the neighborhood is thrilled to have Salvatore and his team back uptown. While Alloro was a smaller space and, until a redo, noted for its bright green walls and upscale modern decor, the new Cacio e Pepe is larger and more casual, with rose-colored walls, wood floors and tables, and a comfortable bar that runs nearly the length of the interior. There are additional tables in the windows as well as an outdoor dining area.
We decided to sit at the bar. Pamela, who was doing double duty as a server and bartender, told us she has worked for Salvatore and his wife, Gina, for a long time, including at Alloro. She guided us through the menu, mixed a wonderful martini, and recommended an excellent bottle of white wine.
Corea is on his game. The menu is seasonal, inventive, and, yes, exciting. He told us the menu will soon transition to fall so we were glad to be able to enjoy his summer creations. We began with a salad, but not any salad. Pamela told us that based on the ingredients Corea manages to source, his special “insalata” may boast 10, 20 or 30 components, depending on what produce inspires the chef. While we never came up with an exact count, the salad included greens, herbs, almonds, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, radishes, apples, grapes, beans, beets, red onions, and many more.
While we were tempted by Corea’s cacio e pepe, dramatically mixed table side inside a wheel of cheese, we opted for fettuccine con pesto di rucola, salsa di bruschetta liquida, ricotta e bucce di limoni candite (fettuccine with arugula pesto, liquid bruschetta sauce, ricotta and candied lemon zest). The homemade fettuccine, tender and glistening with pesto, rested on a bed of the sauce made from pureed bruschetta. A dollop of ricotta was placed on top, along with slivers of the lemon zest.
We chose two fish dishes for our entrees. My husband enjoyed the bacala alla romana con patate (bacala roman style with potatoes), while I had the filetto di salmone croccante, panzanella, asparagi and aglio dolce (salmon filet, panzanella salad, asparagus and sweet garlic). Both dishes were well-balanced and perfectly seasoned. While the potatoes on the bacalao dish were a bit hearty for summer, the panzanella on my dish was the winner.
Our refreshing dessert was a passion fruit crema alongside a fruit granita. A perfect end to a wonderful meal.
Welcome back, Salvatore!
Cacio e Pepe
1479 York Avenue