Peter Serpico's chef-owner debut marks the most exciting new restaurant this year, a handsome dark box of a room illuminated by a gleaming open kitchen and counter, where diners watch the former Momofuku Ko chef and his team create modern American cuisine at its best. At once edgy and beautiful, Serpico's food uses contemporary techniques without overshadowing good taste. Partner Stephen Starr deserves props for giving Serpico free rein, and South Street revival hope.
Raw scallops with poppies and buttermilk; pig head with burnt onion mustard; chilled dashi; duck liver mousse; custard and caviar; deep-fried duck leg; Cope's corn ravioli; seasonal vegetables; caper-brined trout; Wagyu chuck flap; lamb ribs for two; goat cheese sorbet; Rocky Road; toasted apple cake.
A small but deliberately chosen drink selection, cocktails both classic (Corpse Reviver No. 2) and creative (Fall Guy with rye, apple brandy, and a Laphroaig spritz), and some rare artisanal spirits (Koval millet whiskey) worth a snifter. There are smart wines by the glass (Gentilini Robola; Banshee Rickshaw pinot noir) and bottles (J.J. Prüm Riesling Kabinett; St. Jean du Barroux Grenache) that focus on quality more than value. Several sakes open some unexpected but successful pairings, like cedary Taru with spicy lamb.
There's an 84-decibel buzz, but the room is still manageable for conversation, among Starr's quietest. (Ideal is 75 decibels.)
Dinner Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, until midnight.