Dining at the Fontainebleau: Scarpetta

Scarpetta is Fontainebleau’s Italian restaurant, located in the lobby level of Sorrento.  It’s by Scott Conant who recently opened a restaurant of the same name in New York City.

Peering in through the entrance, the restaurant gives off a very hip nautical vibe.  The color scheme is a soothing light blue, gray and light brown.  A mosaic with a circular pattern runs across the wall and behind the bar.  A large outdoor seating area overlooks the resort’s pools and is great for dining alfresco on nice evenings.

My experience at Scarpetta didn’t start off so great.  I had to wait 30 minutes for a table, even though I had a reservation.  The good thing was the bartenders were very friendly.  The manager was apologetic and once we were seated the staff was very attentive.

As Scarpetta is an Italian restaurant, the majority of the wine is Italian.  Fortunately there’s a sommelier on hand to help you choose among the many bottles.  What’s surprising is there are no American wines.  If you want something outside of Italy, your only option is a French wine.

The servers were a bit aggressive when it came to refilling our wine glasses.  I’d take a sip and someone would come by and refill the glass.  It seemed there were several servers who roamed around refilling glasses.  One would pour in a little, then another would pour a little more — even if you hadn’t taken a sip in between.  It felt like they were pushing us along so we would order another bottle.  We didn’t.

Our server was extremely well versed on the menu.  He went over it before we ordered, explaining what each Italian term meant and going into detail if we asked about a specific dish.

At his recommendation we ordered the homemade duck and foie gras ravioli to start.  The pasta was light and the creamy center oozed out when you took a bite.  The flavor was rich and delicious.  It was a generous portion and very filling — you could order it as a main course.

One appetizer I really liked was the grilled octopus.  It was served with black lentils and celery salad.  The octopus had a great fresh taste and was cooked just right so it was still very moist.  I preferred Scarpetta’s grilled octopus to Gotham Steak’s version.

The main courses were a bit disappointing.  The black cod, served with concentrated tomatoes and roasted fennel, was overcooked and didn’t have much taste (Gotham Steak wins on black cod).  The Branzino ‘Acqua Pazza’ (meaning crazy water) was slightly better.  It’s served in a tomato broth with cous cous and lobster.  The branzino was light and delicate but the lobster was very chewy.  Both the fish and the tomato broth seemed to be lacking in seasoning.

My favorite Italian dessert is tiramisu so I had to order it when I saw it on the dessert menu.  Scarpetta offers a deconstructed version called “tira mis su.”  It came out looking like an open-faced unmelted s’more — a small espresso-soaked cookie underneath a log of mascarpone cream covered in what tasted like ground up chocolate-covered espresso beans.  Unless you love mascarpone cream, it’s way too much of it.  I prefer it in smaller doses, like when it’s spread between lady fingers in traditional tiramisu.

The highlight of the dessert was the chocolate olive oil mousse that was served with small chunks of espresso granita.  The granita melts in your mouth, filling it with a refreshing burst of chilled espresso.  It balances out the heavier mousse nicely.  I couldn’t get enough of the combination.  The mousse and granita deserve their own spot on the dessert menu.

My verdict after dining at Scarpetta: stick with appetizers in the lounge at the bar and order the chocolate olive oil mousse on its own.

Scarpetta is open for dinner and Sunday brunch.  For more information click here.

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Nightlife at the Fontainebleau: Bleau Bar and LIV