Incognito Bistro Puts a Fresh Scottish Spin on Italian Favorites
Is Incognito the only Scottish-Italian restaurant in Manhattan? That’s what I kept wondering while I gleefully made my way through nearly a third of the Incognito NYC menu the other night, a grateful guest of Chef Paolo Montana and his partner Adriana Moretti. Chef Montana is a native Scot who learned and sharpened his considerable skill in one of Glasgow’s finest Italian restaurants (apparently there’s a sizable Italian community in that city) before landing in New York, where he ran the kitchen for a decade in a Chelsea Italian spot. Then two summers ago Montana and Moretti (who’s also Scotch-Italian) opened Incognito, and recently amplified their dual heritage on the menu, adding a “Scottish Corner” to the festivities. It’s a move that, after gorging myself silly, I heartily approve.
Feast on Scallops
I had many terrific dishes throughout my three-hour-long feast, but I think my favorites were all among the most Scottish selections. The Isle of Sky Scallops, for example, were fantastic, hugely fat, cooked nice and rare, and served with a plump crescent of the crustacean’s sweet, briny roe. I’ve never been served scallop roe like this, and I must say, I hope it starts a trend. Also great was the juicy Ayrshire Pork, doused in a grainy mustardy sauce, and accompanied by a slab of terrific Stornoway Black Pudding, appropriately deep and rich, and made dense and chewy with the addition of oats into the mix.
Chef Montana’s Famous Dishes
The straight-up Scottish dishes here were all good, but don’t skip past the pasta part of the Incognito menu. My sampler plate of Chef Montana’s noodles featured three big winners: the spicy/sweet Piccante with firm penne, ricotta, crumbled sausage and chilis; the butternut squash Ravioli with marscapone and green peas (this dish is often overly sweet, but Chef Montana shows a deft touch); and, best of all, the Risotto with bitter greens and, deliciously, smoked cheese. There was lots more–including an impressive platter of first rate desserts–but one more definite recommendation would be the Braised Octopus and Black Bean starter, the cephalapod meltingly tender, and holding its own against the anchovies, capers, olives, and spicy tomato sauce.
More Information and Directions To Coney Island
Incognito NYC Italian Bistro is located on 18th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and is open weekdays for lunch from 11:30 to 4:00, and Monday through Saturday for dinner 4:00 to 11:00. Closed Sundays. The dining room at Incognito is pretty and comfortable, the atmosphere more grown up than most places in the neighborhood, the staff unfailingly friendly and professional.