First Look: Sassetta Gets Comfortable in its Second Home

Sassetta reopened on the ground floor of the Joule Hotel earlier this year. In its previous life, the restaurant lived in the Design District in the space now occupied by New York-import Italian restaurant Carbone.

The polished and chic Joule is fitting quarters for Sassetta. The plating of pistachio cake is as immaculate and thoughtful as every inch of space in the hotel, much like an art piece in the lobby that is two hanging engines encrusted in brilliant blue copper sulfate.

Entering the hotel, after the valet opens the doors for you, veer right and a hostess at Sassetta will intercept you. At this juncture, you have a big choice to make: where to sit. The front and back of this restaurant offer two different dining experiences. The front row pretty much rests on the sidewalk, albeit completely enclosed and indoors. So, if you prefer a distraction while eating, ask for that. It’s great people-watching. We peeped a valet’s glee at sliding behind the wheel of a dazzling white, new Jaguar F-Type and a bride and groom taking photos and trying not to sweat.

GThe back of the dining room is dim and den-like, more intimate and quiet.

Chef Jason Zymont previously worked as a sous chef  at Per Se in New York City and a chef de partie at Noma, a Danish restaurant with three Michelin stars. His kitchen is making everything from scratch, including the pasta and house-cured meats.

Service is spot-on at Sassetta.

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The Paper Plane is named after M.I.A’s 2007 song.

Lauren Drewes Daniels

The Paper Plane ($16) cocktail is a riff off a classic called the Last Word. It was developed sometime around 2007 and is named for M.I.A.’s raucous song “Paper Planes.” (“I fly like paper, get high like planes.”) The drink is made with equal parts bourbon, Ramazzotti, Aperol and lemon, a refreshing balance that’s not sour, tart, strong or sweet.

click to enlarge The cauliflower and trout roe Caesar at Sassetta. - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS

The cauliflower and trout roe Caesar at Sassetta.

Lauren Drewes Daniels

The Caesar salad at Sassetta has a roasted cauliflower base ($16) instead of Romain and is adorned with translucent orange trout roe, sourdough crumbs and pecorino cheese. The roe was mostly eye candy; the delicate flavor didn’t stand a chance with the other pungent players in the dish. Perhaps the most refined of palates could pick it up. Regardless, it was altogether a memorable starter.

The Bolognese is made with white wine here (no tomato) and was both rich and delicate ($27). The fresh tagliatelle carried the sauce perfectly. The lobster fra diavolo ($28) was perfect as well. At that price point, one couldn’t help to scooch the pasta around to look for chunks of lobster, which had a solid showing.

There’s no bread served with the dinner. In fact, there’s no bread anywhere on the menu aside from pizza.

click to enlarge Olive oil lemon cake at Sassetta - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS

Olive oil lemon cake at Sassetta

Lauren Drewes Daniels

The olive oil lemon cream cake was spectacular. It’s a hide in the back of the restaurant and eat-alone dish. You’ll likely Google “olive oil cake” and scroll through recipes later on. The rich cake is layered with lemon curd and mascarpone with a parade of pistachios marching across. An extra smudge of lemon curd on the plate begs you to lick it off. A more substantial portion would have been nice. Sharing a slice ($15) was just enough to tease. Would I order it again? Yes. Would I share it? Nope.

Don’t linger too long at your table; valet is free for an hour and a half, and we were caught off guard needing $10 cash when the time had passed quicker than we realized. 

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