I was on the fence about checking out Santina because I can no longer pretend I enjoy spending too much money for ok food just because I’m in Meatpacking. I wonder if I’m still even cool enough for this neighborhood. Oh well, that’s a discussion for another day…
But back to Santina. Whether or not I’m trendy enough for Meatpacking aside, that’s where my beau and I found ourselves recently because we were heading to the Warhol exhibit at the Whitney. We needed a brunch spot and, at noon, the wait was too long at Bubby’s (obviously) and we weren’t going to do a crazy bottle service party brunch. Santina is right next to the museum so the convenience factor was high, as was the credibility when I remembered it’s owned by the Major Food Group. These folks run Carbone, Parm, Dirty French, Sadelle’s, and more. They know what they’re doing.
Let’s start with the decor because first impressions always matter. Santina is nothing like the rest of the industrial Meatpacking area it inhabits. It’s colorful and airy. I am obsessed with the glass blown chandeliers. The photo above does not do them justice. And I loved seeing the ceramic dinnerware that brought me right back to our Amalfi Coast honeymoon.
I had mostly heard about Santina for supper, where seafood dishes are plentiful (it is supposed to be a coastal Italian restaurant, after all), but we were there for brunch after a night out so we were avoiding seafood. Instead, my beau got a frittata with mushrooms and zucchini and a side of sausage. I was happy to see the sausage was split lengthwise and grilled – it made it more exciting to eat than the standard breakfast sausage. Albert also lived his frittata, which he said was light but satisfying.
I was very intrigued by the cecina section on the menu. Cecina are basically chickpea crêpes. One large one is brought out on a pedestal along with a bowl of whichever of their four preparations you choose. I was leaning towards the avocado but wasn’t sure if it would be better than the truffled eggs so I consulted the waiter who confirmed the avocado was by far the best. MOVE OVER AVOCADO TOAST. This is the new brunch dish.
This is Meatpacking so you’re never going to get a cheap meal (everything was $20+), but I’m happy to report that the portion wasn’t too tiny. I feel like there was easily 1.5 avocados in my bowl. It was dotted with gems of halved grape tomatoes, a few chopped marconas, and a large basil leaf. Seasoning was minimal, but that meant the freshness and natural flavor of those few ingredients could really sing. It also meant you could season your DIY crêpe breakfast with the two condiments they brought out: a tomato sofrito full of smoky flavor and an avocado salsa verde. They need to tout these condiments on the menu – they were fabulous and could make any brunch dish better.
I kind of wish we did a Bellini service (the fresh juices just sounded so good), but I didn’t need any more alcohol that weekend. Instead, we tried the coconut iced coffee (so tropical) and an affogato, courtesy of the waiter. This was not your standard affogato. Less espresso, more ginormous ice cream sundae. I particularly liked the marscapone ice cream flavor. Overall, ice cream is not the kinda thing that gets my gears goin, but if you do, in fact, scream for ice cream this is tasty.
Like the rest of meatpacking, Santina is grand. But it’s also bright – something this neighborhood is sorely lacking. It is a great addition the the area and a restaurant I would actually love to revisit…and not just because I need a meal before heading into the one non-UES art museum. Maybe I’m cool enough for Meatpacking after all.