It’s always summer at Santina NYC!
I was super excited to check out Major Food Group’s latest restaurant on my recent visit to New York, but what I didn’t expect was a tropical paradise in the middle of the Meatpacking District! I visited Santina for lunch a couple of weeks ago on relatively cold day, and in stark contrast all the servers were dressed for the height of summer in brightly coloured polo shirts and off white pants.
As I was admiring the colourful ceramic plates on the white marble countertops, the orange trees in the corners, the large palm tree by the bar and generally taking in the summery vibe, my brother asked for the Wi-Fi password, and of course he was told that it was “alwayssummer”! Yup, its always summer at Santina NYC all right. The restaurant has wall to wall and floor to ceiling windows on 3 of the walls, and each of the many Murano glass chandeliers hanging from the wood cabana-like ceiling is colorful and unique. Although they are aiming for a coastal Italian vibe, to me if felt like a mix between a cruise ship and a beach club. Either way, it does its job of getting you in a holiday mood, and is apparently a trendy weekend drinks spot for those who want to see and be seen, so they have obviously done something right!
Although the main focus of Santina's one page menu is seafood, there are quite a few veggie-friendly offerings, and our cheerful and knowledgeable server talked us through them. Since there were four of us, we ordered a decent selection.
For a pretty dull sounding vegetarian salad consisting of just a few ingredients, the Arugula Fig Salad was quite delicious. The light bitterness of the Arugula was nicely balanced with the sweet figs and the sharp nutty taste of the Parmesan, starting our meal off on a positive note. This was shortly followed by a small bowl of Avocado Trapanese consisting of mashed avocado with tomatoes and mild spices, served alongside the Cecina, a large gluten-free pancake made with chick-pea flour. While the Cecina was a little too oily, we loved the avocado, and quite enjoyed the concept of eating it with a pancake.
Contrary to our expectations, the Squash Carpaccio was by far our favorite appetizer; I later discovered that it was one of the most talked about dishes at the restaurant. The thin slices of butternut squash with the added sweetness of spiced honey agrodolce and sage brown butter, the crunchy pumpkin seeds, and the dots of crème fraiche certainly got our mouths watering for the main course.
The 3 mains we ordered were also sharing style, and they were served together, along with the side of Spicy Potatoes. Now you can’t go wrong with spicy potatoes, and these ones certainly did not disappoint. We loved that the Rigatoni Norma was heavy on tomato sauce. It did seem a tad under seasoned, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with the spicy sauce left on every table. As for the Eggplant Sesamo, it was certainly “sesamo,” as it was served over a plateful of delicious tahini. We thought the dates were a nice touch for the garnish, but unfortunately the texture of the eggplant itself was a little off, and it was overly oily. My personal favourite was the Broccoli & Pecorino Rice, which was a much lighter alternative to a risotto. It was a light and refreshing dish, and we really enjoyed the sharp pecorino flavour, which really stood out without the use of any added cream in the dish. Overall, it was perfect for a summer’s day – oh wait, I almost forgot how cold it was outside!
None of us were really in the mood to indulge in dessert, but we could definitely have used just a sweet bite or two, so we ordered the Hazelnut Orange Cake to share between the four us, which our server mentioned was one of her favourites. I guess the fact that it was left unfinished speaks for itself; perhaps dessert isn’t their forte.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: X
Pros: Pros: Amazing atmosphere, great service, popular hotspot, a few delicious veggie dishes of note, great for gluten free.
Cons: Not very vegan friendly, a few dishes are a little oil heavy.
Never miss a post from VeggieBuzz!
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest VeggieBuzz content delivered right to your inbox.