When a friend suggested dinner in Manhattans Tribeca, the first thing I thought was that it would be a relatively long taxi ride downtown. The second thing I thought was that a Tribeca dining spot would be a somewhat pretentious, loud, trendy restaurant with so-so food (and high prices). Well, I could not have been further off the mark than with Scalini Fedeli on Duane Street. This super charming, refined, but not too formal, restaurant wins on all counts.
Scalini Fedelis entrance has baskets of fresh fruit, which help set the tone that, while upscale, this is a quite approachable restaurant with maybe 15 tables. The main dining room is elegant and relaxed, with burning candles tableside (rare in Manhattan). The vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows reminded me a bit of a church and I wondered if it may have been one in days past. Be that as it may, the ambiance was entirely warm and comfortable; its not as formal as Bouley just down the street and the food is every bit as good.The Scalini Fedeli menu is a mix of Italian and some French items, and all the food I sampled was outstanding. Yes, the cost is on the upper end, but this is one of the rare establishments where the splurge is worth it. I had braised pork and pasta superb. Everything was well prepared and tasteful. The tasting menu ($65 plus drinks) is all around a really good value in Manhattan, and is perfect for a special occasion.
The clientele here seems to be a mix of locals and visitors, but notably absent are New York hipsters who may prefer the scene at Locande Verde.
I am happy that Scalini Fedeli is not so well known in the NYC establishment. It does not appear to be vying for awards and PR buzz, and it isnt owned by celebrity chefs. To me, it seems like a neighborhood restaurant that is quite satisfied by having a regular, loyal clientele. Im happy to say that I will be returning soon to this gem.
Note that Tribeca has a good number of solid restaurants, in an area that is often off the beaten path for tourists. While Scalinini Fedeli is my new favorite downtown Italian spot, I also love and recommend the Harrison on Greenwich Street for good, solid meat dishes!
For general trip-planning information, see our New York City Travel Guide.