We’re nearly five years and 800 reviews deep here at Immaculate Infatuation, and it’s kind of ridiculous that Esca hasn’t gotten any love. It’s time to fix that. We’ve been coming here forever, usually accompanied by someone over the age of 70. While my Grandma sure does love Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s timeless fish and pasta spot, she’s not alone. Year after year, Esca remains in the conversation of the NYC elite. It’s always jam packed, mostly with the business and commuter crowd.
For fish lovers, this is like walking into that amazing pet store that had the best selection of tropical fish when you were a kid. “Holy cow. They have Tetras, Swordtails, AND Kissing Gouramis!” Being the lone great restaurant in the horrible hot mess of an area where the Lincoln Tunnel, Times Square and The Port Authority all converge has actually been a great thing for Esca. Since there’s nothing even remotely noteworthy around here when it comes to food, Esca is the place to be.
As for the menu, the raw fish crudos are out of this world. Start with lots of them. Definitely get a pasta or two, we’ll get into that below. And when it comes to picking your fish entree, it’s all a matter of taste because the simple preparations are seasoned perfectly and you really can’t go wrong.
Reservations aren’t tough to come by at Esca, and during warm weather months, there’s also a great outdoor patio for maximum quality fish enjoyment. Despite minimal updates to a dated space over the years, Esca remains a safe bet for an excellent meal. It certainly proves that good food never goes out of style.
This is how you start a meal at Esca, and maybe some oysters, too. The crudo section of the menu literally covers every fish in the sea. It doesn’t matter what you mess with, it’s going to be delicious. Get a sampler to try a bunch of different stuff.
One of our favorite appetizers. Whole cuttlefish cooked in their own ink with butterbeans and pastina. Watch out, don’t get the black ink all over your shirt.
We’ve been known to come here and do a clam tasting menu. Crudo, this dish, forno (which are littleneck clams baked with honeycrisp apple, double-smoked bacon, and horseradish), the absolutely flawless Linguine Vongole with red hot pepper and pancetta, and the Zuppa di Pesce (their delicious fish stew entree that has clams in it).
Thick, spaghetti-like pasta with jumbo gulf shrimp, arugula, and gravy. Delicious.
Whatever pasta they have on the menu with sea urchin and crabmeat, order it. Thank us later.
One of the Esca signatures, if you come with a group, you should absolutely order a simply prepared, expertly seasoned whole fish. As with everything on the menu, there are options. Lots of ’em. Sea bass, branzino, and porgy. Don’t sleep on the porgy.