New York: Lincoln Yields First-Rate, First-Class Modern Italian

Exterior of Lincoln

One of my strategies to eating around New York on an indispensible budget is to do lunch well – especially if the dinner entrees of a desired restaurant tend to hit a higher price point. Lincoln, however, was not to fall under that game plan. Sam Kim said, “It’s THE opening of Fall [2010].” So I secured a reservation three weeks prior to opening and four before I boarded for JFK. It is a special place that, upon approach and even closer look, was designed to seamlessly blend into Lincoln Center. It is successful, indeed – etymologically and aesthetically, inside and out. It’s a masterpiece complete with a sloped, grass-covered roof that doubles as a lawn.

Capesanta In Padella | Sea scallop, sunchokes, almonds, sunflower oil

I had two dinner companions, and we all agreed that the feel of the space was uniquely pleasant. Beautiful. “It’s like how an airport is supposed to feel,” my friend Robbie said. The pristine, glass-encased kitchen highlighted the excellent service we received all night in an impeccably casual, yet elegant, ambiance. Through the glass walls, I admired Jonathan Benno – previously Chef de Cuisine at Per Se for 6 years – as he sent out each dish. The servers’ pace was expedient but never hurried.

We were artfully presented with thin crisps – seasoned with things delightful and elusive to my memory – before a perfect selection of three varieties of bread. The butter, made with 83% Vermont buttercream, was some of the best I have ever had. Our appetizer, a perfectly seared sea scallop with almonds and sunchoke smear, was a delicious departure and made me excited for more.

Cavatelli con Vongole | Razor clams, peppers, lemon thyme

We were all in the mood for the Primi (pasta) selection on the menu, though I’d be lying if I said the Carne didn’t pique my curiosity. The Bistecca alla Fiorentina ($90) yields 28-day aged prime black angus sirloin, bone marrow sformato and cipollini agro dolce. Sure, I was committed to dinner but also next month’s 31-day rent. Perhaps on a return New York rendezvous.

Strozzapreti alla Genovese | Zucchini, yellow squash, squash, pesto

I had to witness the pairing of cavatelli with razor clams by ordering it. True to suspicion, they blended perfectly and in no small part by the lemon thyme sauce. I enjoyed discovering whether each morsel was a clam or cavatelli.

Dave, a pescatarian, ordered the Pesto Strozzapreti with Zucchini. The rustic pasta shapes were in a classic, well-executed pesto sauce and accompanied by fresh, perfectly-cooked vegetables. Robbie very much enjoyed his piping hot Lasagne Verdi alla Bolognese, the ragu sauce of which included pork, veal and beef – and I enjoyed my little bite of it.

Budino al Cioccolato | Pistachio genovese, burnt orange sauce, clementine orange sorbetto

Dessert was a symphony of flavors – a perfect fall finale of pistachios with pistachio cake and burnt orange sauce set against a vibrant orange sorbetto with the chocolate budino ultimately being the deliciously rich centerpiece. As it was drizzling outside on this New York September night, it was nice to cap off the evening with an espresso and this really elegant dessert.

My modern Italian meal at Lincoln (along with Del Posto – post to come, later) embodied what I rarely experience and miss in Los Angeles. It’s meals like this that remind me that my experience with service professionals in L.A. dining establishments by and large are means to the “big acting break” end. Service at Lincoln, however, is impeccable, extremely courteous and prompt. The cuisine is meticulous and the furnishings and overall feel are unmatched. Expect many accompaniments before and after your meal (pastries came after dessert, too) and back-of-the-hand menu knowledge by each member of the staff. I will return here when I return to New York (especially after learning upon further research they have a Negroni bar!).

View from 65th Street

7 Days a Week

Lunch: 12 – 2 PM
Dinner: 5:30 – 10:30 PM
Brunch (Sat & Sun): 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Subway: 1 at 66th Street (Lincoln Center)

Lincoln
142 W. 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
213.359.6500