Back when Donny was living in Park Slope, he used to complain about the lack of food choices in the area. Recently he had some work done on his current apartment and so he was staying in Park Slope — and all he wanted to do was try the restaurants. This was a good thing for both of us. He emailed me and asked if I’d ever been to Scalino, a small Italian place on 7th Avenue. I replied, “no, but i walk past it every day and i’m always simultaneously intrigued by and suspicious of it.” We went for dinner a few days later.
I’ve never been able to put my finger on exactly why I was suspicious of it, but as soon as we sat down at our table Donny hit the nail on the head. He said it was like some place out of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, and the whole night played out exactly like that. The daily specials are written out on a chalkboard that is brought around to every table. Why? No reason. Especially when they run out of one of the specials and yet they don’t erase it from the board. Then after one of the many men running around (Owners? They didn’t act like waiters) took our orders, another man came up to take our order.
I got the artichoke appetizer (from the specials board, $9). When our server brought out the plate he told me that if I like artichokes, I was going to love these. Well I LOVE artichokes, and these were just so-so. It’s funny that they laid out the five small artichokes on a big white plate, further emphasizing the little bit of food that was really there for the price. The artichokes were melt-in-your-mouth soft, but they had almost no flavor. They could have done with a splash of lemon and a bit more salt.
The same could be said about my entree, also from the specials board — tagliatelle with lemon and mint ($13.50, which is pretty outrageous). The “lemon” part of the dish was thinly sliced lemon rind, and it was topped with a sprinkle of mint. The overwhelming taste was of the parmesan on top. There was no seasoning whatsoever — i don’t even think the noodles were boiled in salted water. Speaking of the noodles, they were all clumped together in one big mass, almost as if they had been sitting around, cooked, on a plate in the back until I ordered them and they were heated up at that point.
Donny mentioned that his ox tail ragu with polenta (pictured at the top) was also under-seasoned. It really was like an episode of Kitchen Nightmares — sloppy service and bad food. The only difference was that Scalino was actually packed. It’s a shame really, it has the potential to be a nice little neighborhood trattoria.
After we left Scalino, we met up with our friends Matt and Phaedra for some drinks at 12th Street Bar and Grill, and then Johnny Mack’s. Matt and Donny and I then went over to Sidecar, a bar whose menu Donny has been meaning to try.
I had some white bean and feta dip with tortilla chips. Admittedly I was a little drunk at that point, but I remember it being pretty good — the feta added a nice tang to the dip. I had a taste of Donny’s vegetable tacos, which I didn’t care much for. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to have such a late night meal, but Donny was satisfied — at least he’d tried another place on his list.
Scalino — 347 7th Ave, Brooklyn
Sidecar — 560 5th Ave, Brooklyn