ESCA, Italian for “bait,” the stuff of temptation and enticement, is a southern Italian trattoria devoted to celebrating the fruits of the sea.
Created by James Beard award-winning chef Dave Pasternack, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich in October 2000, ESCA is revered for its less-is-more approach, for its elegant simplicity. In his 3-star New York Times canonization of ESCA as the ultimate Italian seafood destination in New York, Frank Bruni coined Dave as “an honest-to-God fisherman, in love with the ocean, and ESCA is his ongoing ode to it.”
Dave’s distinctive crudo dishes are emblematic of ESCA’s food. The freshest, most pristine fish is carefully chosen, expertly sliced, and dressed with one of at least a dozen different extra virgin olive oils from all over the Boot and sprinkled with any one of ten different sea salts, depending on the flavor of each specific piscatorial divinity. One bite of tilefish with Sardinian oil, for example, will transport you both to the sea in the Gulf of Mexico and the land in Olbia. Dining at ESCA centers on the best ingredients combined with thoughtful consideration. The varied Italian wine list, composed with value in mind, pairs brilliantly with both the esoteric and the sublimely intuitive.
ESCA’s intimate and elegant dining room is superb for any occasion and the outdoor patio offers a lovely, quiet experience amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City’s theatre district. Your meal will be, as Mario says, in the “hands of Zen Master Fisherman Extraordinaire, Chef Dave Pasternack.”