Santina is a coastal Italian restaurant created by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick. Situated on what used to be the coast of Manhattan where some of the city’s first farmers market once stood.
The restaurant is a coastal Italian restaurant created by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick.
It is a glass-encased restaurant tucked under the railway trestle of the High Line, and it’s one of the most vibrant, lively places to eat in New York right now.
Santina’s dining room in the Meatpacking District feels cozy with 86 seats.
At dinnertime, though, the music is aggressively loud, and the room can feel crowded. The place is more on brand, more seductively on theme, at lunchtime, when it’s slightly quieter and full of sunlight.
Though it bills itself as coastal Italian, it can feel more like a Mad Men-era, American-fueled fantasy of the Amalfi Coast. You know the kind, where everything is light and bright and soft around the edges, and everyone is good-looking and friendly and disarmingly earnest.
At Santina, you’ll find something those other restaurants sometimes lack: a sense of joy and genuine warmth. And for a place that looks like a tourist trap, the food is subversively good.
Santina takes inspiration from the neighborhood’s history with a menu that highlights vegetables and fish. Dishes like Giardinia Crudite, Spaghetti Blue Crab and Bass Agrigento integrate Italian coastal cuisine with modern culinary sensibilities.
Start with cecina, an extremely polished rendition of the simple Ligurian chickpea pancake, served here as a thin, flexible crepe with a lacy edge. It’s nothing fancy, but with a little raw tuna dressed in chili oil, or precisely cooked shrimp with crunchy bread crumbs and ginger, it’s fantastic.
Do order the porgy, grilled whole and served with just what it needs to shine—some bands of raw fennel and fresh herbs.
There’s bread service at Santina, too, if one asks for it, but bread seems a bit sodden in so light a menu. Instead, there’s Cecina, a Tuscan chickpea crepe accompanied by any of five fillings. Among the best are the avocado trapanese, a riff on a Sicilian pesto (itself a tomato riff on a Ligurian basil pesto), which flirts with being a guacamole, saved only by the addition of almonds and firmness of avocado. Weird Italian guac burrito, we salute you.
Best Outdoor Dining Spot in NYC
Santina is an unpretentious good time, and nowhere near as intense or intimidating as the rest of the Major roster. It’s the kind of place you can just roll into anytime without a reservation, test your luck on a table, but ultimately sit at the spacious bar for a meal. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it also doubles as easily the best cocktail bar in Meatpacking.
From the waitstaff’s polo shirts to the vivid, vibrant food, and even the bowls in which it’s served, this kaleidoscope of sunny, southern European colors will simply make you feel better about life.
Santina is located underneath the Gansevoort entrance to the High Line park in a structure designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano.