I went to Scott Conant's Scarpetta last night, located on W 14th between 8th and 9th, closer to 9th. It's received a lot of good press in recent weeks, with The Times giving it three stars.
Scarpetta gives the impression of a trendy bar setting juxtaposed against the white-washed brick walls of a old New York warehouse. Rows of exposed filament lightbulbs stand encased within glass boxes hanging from the ceiling. I saw something similar to this style at Macondo as well, and I get the feeling it's a popular look these days.
My bread basket was introduced as having salami in it, so I told the waiter I was vegetarian, and he brought me back a vegetarian version of the bread basket. The breads were decent but did not have the immense flavor or amazing addictive quality that the best breads have. The spreads were interesting, however. A mascarpone-butter was light and enjoyable. An eggplant spread was ok, and a citrus olive oil was fresh-tasting.
For my dishes, I ordered a polenta with a fricasee of truffled mushrooms. The mushrooms were in a light sauce in a separate stainless-steel pot, and the waiter poured some of them poured over the polenta. The polenta itself was creamy and tasty, and the mushrooms were cooked well. Well done for what it was, but ultimately kind of bland.
This was my basic complaint with the famous spaghetti pomodoro as well. It comes in a light basil sauce. In my opinion, the fat spaghetti could have been cooked a touch less. The simple red sauce was so light it didn't have adequate savor. A little red pepper gave it its only bite. Again, decent comfort food, but I kept eating hoping for some greater satisfaction, and I didn't get it. Basically, too bland. Olive oil and pasta is of course not going to taste bad, but it did not wow me.
The service at Scarpetta was professional and courteous, the prices decent but not great, and the room filled with 20-40 yr old yuppies. Overall, like L'Impero before it, a nice place (though much hipper than L'I), but not one which I'm excited about revisiting.