The high-profile Italian gastronomy super stars, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich(B&B Hospitality Group) have just opened their highly anticipated Italian Trattori La Sirena, in Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel. This is their first restaurant in New York City after their critically acclaimed Michelin star restaurant Del Posto first opened its doors a few blocks away, exactly a decade ago in 2006. The superstars have returned to their culinary home in New York City after spending the last few years opening up Eataly ventures throughout the globe. La Sirena is designed to be a lively mix of Babbo and Lupa, with the Romanesque menu of Lupa and the sophistication of Babbo.
Upon arrival you enter the middle of the restaurant, gazing at the grand 38 foot long Caesarstone bar. You immediately sense that this will be “the hot spot” in the neighborhood for cocktails and drinks, as the bar is bigger than the dining room. The two main dining rooms anchor each side of this sleek, sexy bar. The flooring is beautifully adorned with curvaceous black and white pavers, inspired from the 1960’s when the Maritime Hotel was first designed. The dining room is neutral, minimalistic yet sophisticated with a grey and white backdrop.
The alluringly crafted cocktail menu is innovative and delicious. My two favorite drinks of the evening were the Viola, made with Hendrick’s Gin, Hibiscus, Lemon and Prosecco and the Fennel Margherita specially made with infused Cointreau, were especially interesting and refreshing. If you like a more traditional cocktail, the Negroni della Casa was made just perfect with house made bitters. Aside from a few bottles of Champagne, the wine list was entirely and impressively all Italian, covering all the major wine regions of Italy. There was definitely something to please everyone on the wine list, which had wonderful starting price points and inclusive of some extravagant splurge worthy bottles from Sassicaia, Ornellaia, and Angelo Gaja.
After cocktails we headed through a beautifully arched copper tunnel into the north dining room. The dining room had wall to floor windows that will open up to the patio once the weather warms up. One thing that overwhelmed me were the number of servers running throughout the room. Service was extremely attentive, quick and impeccable though a bit overdone as there were too many people standing around the room, which took away from intimacy of the dining experience. Our table had at least five different wait staff to serve food, water, bread, and wine.
Josh Laurano is the executive chef and has been with the B& B restaurants for over 1o years, originally from Babbo and most recently as the executive chef at Lupa. The menu is made of antipasti, insalate, pasta(primi) and main course(secondi). I would recommend starting with the housemade creamy burrata with pesto and butternut squash and the short rib carpaccio with Umbrian truffles. For the pasta try the cavatelli with pork ribs or my favorite the spicy bucatini arrabbiata with octopus. For the main course, the roasted orata with lime seasoning was delectable. If you want a more traditional entree the beef braciole, braised beef short ribs with broccoli rabe was soft, tender and juicy and the spicy bread crumbs added a crunchy texture to this classic dish. The desserts were decadent. A must try is the Monte Bianco, a cocoa sablé with candied chestnut, black currant, & whip cream, simply divine.
We had the most wonderful experience at La Sirena though still too early to give a full fledge review, so we will be back to see how the restaurant evolves and grows. I am looking forward to coming back for breakfast at Batali’s as La Sirena will be the first of his restaurants to serve breakfast. Having been to all the B&B restaurants, my heart still has a favorite, and that is Lupa. The restaurant stole my heart years ago and still stirs my palate every time I visit. With names like Batali and Bastianich you don’t need me to tell you that it is good, so go ahead and check it out for yourself. You will have a wonderful evening with great vibe, food and service.