When we made a reservation for PS 7’s a few weeks ago, we had no idea that Chef Peter Smith would be transforming his restaurant into an Italian Trattoria the very same night. In fact, we had only found out just a couple of days prior thanks to Eater, but if anything, it made our dinner plans even more appealing.
When we arrived at the restaurant, PS 7’s had gone into full pop-up mode. The tables were adorned with red and white tablecloths, Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” was playing over the PA, and the menus were replaced with handwritten ones featuring Italian dishes inspired by Smith’s great grandmother, complete with illustrations scribbled in pen. It felt very authentic.
The full menu was also available, but it proved difficult not to partake in the festive atmosphere given the exclusive dishes being served that night. On top of that, the menu also featured its own wine selection as well as several desserts.
For our first course, Rachel ordered the roasted peppers appetizer. Featuring fire-roasted red and yellow peppers, arugula, ricotta salata, black pepper, and drizzled with a white balsamic and rosemary reduction, it was a nice way to start off our Italian meal. The best part, however, might have been the polenta croutons.
I went with the rice balls, or Arincini. While I’m partial to the ones found at Taylor Deli, Chef Smith’s rendition took it to the next level. Comprised of mozzarella, salami, ricotta, roasted garlic, tomato confit, and a ricotta schmear, the Arincini were nicely crisp on the outside and completely savory on the inside.
As for our entrees, I went the traditional route with the veal saltimbocca. Topped with slices of house-cured ham, and accompanied with a hard-boiled egg as well as a side of spinach while sitting in sage sauce, it really exceeded my expectations. The veal was excellently cooked, tender, and full of flavor. Combined with the fact that you received two cutlets for a very reasonable price of $18, it proved to be an incredible value.
Rachel ordered the zuppa di pesce, which included clams, mussels, shrimp, and calamari, all sitting in a bowl of shellfish tomato broth. She loved the richness of the broth but thought it was just a tad too salty. The seafood was delicious but felt that the bread was a little too oily. She only wished that there was more seafood or even some pasta to accompany it.
As much as we wanted to continue the Italian theme, we went against the grain and ordered dessert from the regular menu instead. PS 7’s is particularly known for its desserts thanks to pastry chef Lauren Whitledge, and let me you, she did not disappoint. We decided to share three of her dishes amongst our table so we could try a bite of each.
First up was the Lemon Ice Box. If you’re a fan of all things lemon, then this might prove difficult to pass this up. Featuring blueberry jam, lemoncello gelée, and lemon custard, just the presentation alone was stunning. This might have the unanimous favorite with the table.
Up next was the P.B. & J. Comprised of peanut butter crème, peanut sponge, and concord grapes, it was by far the richest of the three desserts. It was a great interpretation of the lunchtime favorite, though Rachel felt that the grapes were a little overpowering at times. Still, it was a fun, imaginative dish that you wouldn’t be able find at other places.
We decided to keep it simple with our last dish, a sorbet trio. While it might have been the least creative dessert of the three we ordered, the flavors were some of the best. Seriously, this is some excellent sorbet. Featuring raspberry, mango, and lavender, we were all wowed by the taste as well as the texture.
All and all, we felt that PS 7’s trattoria concept was an unqualified success. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical how the dishes would turn out since this was the first time they were running this event, but the saltimbocca tasted like the chef had been cooking it for years. The whole concept was executed very well, and what’s even better was that the prices were substantially less than what is offered on the regular menu.
PS 7’s has hosted their trattoria event twice now, and we hope that it continues. They served up some fine Italian cuisine that evening, and while they might be known more for their ahi tuna sliders and housemade hot dogs, I hope it’s not the last we see of that saltimbocca.