The 44-ounce “tomahawk” rib-eye steak at Costata is among the very best in New York. (Anne Wermiel/NY Post)
As I wheeled out my iPhone camera to capture a miserly serving of $21 Amarone Pasini 2008 at Michael White’s winning new steakhouse, Costata, a nervous manager popped over with, “You may have gotten a low pour,” and proceeded to generously top it up.
Non-critics might not be so lucky. A stingy glass of wine suggests how pricey it can be at Costata, where the best steak cuts are $59 per person and $3 or $4 more for butters and sauces.
But the remarkably mature-for-its-age Amarone can stand for Costata itself — muscular, self-assured after just two months and just damned good. (It’s a steal by the bottle for just $84.) Welcome to Michael White’s least “interesting” restaurant, which, despite lacking the originality of his great Italian places, drew me back again and again.
Costata is a well-muscled, white-tablecloth steakhouse without weird, jagged edges on the plate — or in that vague realm of “heat” or “power,” as defined by blog-driven hysterics who briefly make every new place a zoo.
The two-level Spring Street site was once Fiamma, where White rose to fame before he bolted to the Altamarea Group 10 years ago. Altamarea leased the building last year, and it’s an emotional homecoming for him.
One dish, “garganelli alla Fiamma,” is a sentimental nod to its predecessor. But on the prettier and more spacious second floor, mahogany trim, cherry wood floors and leather banquettes are all new.
The house was full even at 10 p.m. on July 2, a Tuesday. Mirrors reflect a jolly, mixed-sex crowd; single-sex tables are too jolly. Beef-nibbling women in bright Uniqlo and H&M colors lock eyes with their dates in black T-shirts.
White in the past few years brought glory to 3-star Marea and ai Fiori. Maybe because he’s also got his hands full with a bunch of other new restaurants, early Costata meals had us nervously muttering, “Michael White goes to Palm Beach.”
Pasta seemed denatured, swordfish dull, polenta liquid enough for those without teeth. Shellfish salad forgot the seasoning.
But they weren’t the reason to go. Huge steaks for two are the menu’s heart, and magnificent. Creekstone Farms Black Angus beef is dry-aged at least 40 days, possessed of buttery flavor depth, yet without an excess of butter or the moldy quality that may come of so long a hang on the hook. Herb basting complexioned the mighty, 40-ounce “Fiorentina” porterhouse and well-marbled, 44-ounce “tomahawk” rib-eye. These are among Manhattan’s grandest new steaks, in Arlington Club’s league.
Lobster al forno ($46) was an oreganata-style masterpiece. Insalata verde ($15) brought romaine-like, little gem lettuce to life with pitch-perfect lemon-mustard vinaigrette.
Lesser chefs doll up inferior crudo with overbearing dressings. But Costata’s “Italian sashimi” is as well-calibrated and as fully realized as Marea’s, justifying prices up to $23.
Marinated razor clams were minced and matched to a Chinese-like tactility in their shells with Manila clams, spices, fennel and soppressata. Sensuously fresh, raw wild striped bass gleamed under ribbons of sea beans, garnished with olive oil and sea salt.
The great pastry chef Robert Truitt’s Italian-esque treats, like rum raisin semifreddo with salted caramel, banana and passion fruit, artfully balance classicism and modernity.
No herbs, no stunts. At Costata, there’s no need for hustle when you’ve got the muscle.
Original article here.