August 16, 2011

Tony May has a long reputation in New York as a restaurant impresario. He was General Manager, then owner, of the famous Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center from1968 to1986, when he opened the acclaimed Palio. In 1988, in the spot now occupied by Marea, he opened the fashionable San Domenico on Central Park South, named after the famous restaurant in Imola. It was appreciated for its classic Italian cuisine and gracious ambience. Two years ago, with his daughter Marisa, he moved to the north side of Madison Square on 26th Street under the name SD26. Dennis and I went for lunch on July 5, 2011.

One walks through the Wine Bar and Lounge en route to the very modern dining room. The feeling is a big change from the clubby San Domenico. The kitchen is open on one side of the dining room.

On the other is a salumeria and cheese station with wide selections from Italy.

As the Wine Bar is set up for wine by the glass, we ordered that way, starting with Pinot Grigio and moving on to an Italian Chardonnay. The bread basket was passed with delicious warm rosemary focaccia. 

Our first course was
soft egg yolk filled ravioli with truffled butter

This was a signature dish of the old San Domenico. It was nice to enjoy its richness again. The yolk inside is on top of a spinach/ricotta mix. There was a good brown butter sauce, but I didn’t get much truffle flavor today. To see a slide show of how it is made click here

Dennis’ main course was
Olive oil poached cod fish, dry martini sauce, heirloom carrots and spring onion.

He enjoyed this, although he thought that the cod was a bit overcooked.

Mine was
Black bass cacciuocco, grilled baby fennel & charred grape tomatoes.

The fish was good quality and perfectly cooked. The seasonal flavor of the tomatoes and the tomato sauce was fresh and not overpowering. Very good.

We shared a cheese plate with Tallegio, Pecorino Conciato al Rosso Conero and another I cannot remember offered by the house.

They were in perfect condition.

We finished with excellent mignardises and espresso.


Our lunch was successful, and made me want to return for a more substantial meal. The service was very good, but there were only four tables occupied at this lunch the day after The Fourth of July. The Mays have made the transition to a modern, large setting with updated cuisine in a way that Aureole and Oceana failed to accomplish in similar moves. They achieved this by sticking faithfully to their Italian roots.

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