Refined Italian: Sistina Restaurant

Sitting in the beautiful limestone mansion located on 81st street off of Fifth Avenue you can’t help but be transported to an earlier period of time. This neo-Renaissance building was built in 1902 by J.C Lyons as a single family six story home. It is now the home of Sistina restaurant. Sistina was located on second avenue for 33 years before moving to the new space on 81st street. It is here that Sistina is dishing out wonderful Italian food with understated, professional service.

Our evening began with cocktails as we read over the menu which includes a nice variety of options to suit any palate. The waiter approached the table before we had decided on our dinner to impeccably recite what must have been no less than fifteen specials for the evening. I was immediately impressed that during these difficult times Sistina is able to offer such a wide variety of specials. The list ended with a showing of beautiful white truffles that were being featured that evening. We are now in Truffle season and I will be reviewing them but not in this post. I have a standing annual Truffle tradition with my best friend so you will be hearing about that shortly.

At Sistina I ordered the Grilled Octopus to start which was served with roasted peppers, capers and white beans. The octopus was cooked perfectly tender and the flavors balanced well with each other. For my entree I ordered the Branzino al Sale, which is European bass cooked in a salt crust. This is a wonderful way to prepare fish since the salt crust holds in the flavor of the sweet, flaky fish. We also shared the Veal Tortelloni served with black truffles. I am still dreaming about this pasta. The evening ended with a celebratory Soufflé for my dear friend’s birthday. We left feeling so satisfied sharing a wonderful evening with friends and great food.

So if you are looking for an escape to an earlier time I would suggest Sistina. If you go, spend a moment looking around the inside and outside of the space. The detail on the facade is exquisite and a fine representation of early 20th century architecture in NYC.

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