The last time I saw chef Scott Carsberg was in the luxe environs of his past restaurant, Lampreia. It was a special occasion dinner, and Mr. Pants and I felt compelled to whisper along with the hushed, reverent voices of other diners that night.
That's why it was all the more surprising when the yelling started. The chef was seriously chewing out a member of his staff. It got so harsh that it pushed my injustice button and I was about to stand up and defend the waiter. I didn't of course. I was a big chicken. Kind of didn't want to be yelled at either. And finally, much as I hate to admit, I was also really, really enjoying the food.
We enjoyed the food last night, too, at Carsberg's new cicchetti bar - Bisato. In order to call this place a cichetti bar we need to clarify, this is not your average snacky, casual Venetian joint like we enjoyed the last time in Venice, where you could get a rice ball, a meat ball and an artichoke heart on a toothpick with your glass of vino bianco, and not spend your entire wages.
Bisato is a much more upscale version of a cicchetti bar.
Gone were the hushed tones, quiet grays of Lampreia. Instead we saw warm lighting, wooden tables, and the only loud voices came not from the chef, luckily, but from the tipsily boisterous tables nearby.
Mr. Pants started off with the effeminate, coral-colored Venetian Sunset cocktail, and I got the more whiskily masculine Basil Hayden Manhattan- both were very well made.
Mediterranean mussels with thin pasta rounds was more like a soup- tiny mussels in broth with almost paper thin rounds of pasta in the bottom of the bowl- hugely flavorful and very nicely done. Carsberg has a serious gift with with texture and flavor.
This gift showed in the smoked artichoke with robiolina cheese; half an artichoke heart. (Half! Not even a whole one!) with a little helmet of white cheese curving to fit perfectly over the halved heart. The intense smoke flavor was a surprise, and a delight, as I love just about anything smoked. At $9, however, I was hoping for a little more on the plate, as I'm getting to be almost as cheap as Mr. Pants. (Who is very, very cheap, by the way)
Chilled pea and mint soup was had by Mr. Pants, and our friend Rakesh tried the Celeriac soup which was made creamier than maybe it needed to be by ricotta salata cheese on the bottom of the bowl. Little squares of tomato gelee broke up the decadence a bit and added color and depth. We really loved the awesome "Branzino Fillet Cooked in Tagine with Black Trumpet Mushrooms." This was more reasonably priced for the portion size and ingredients at $12.
A lemon tart with strawberry sauce was good, though not quite as lemony as I like, but the orange confit with chocolate caramel mousse was maybe my perfect dessert.
Service was attentive and stellar, knowing what you needed before you knew you needed it.