A recent rainy Friday night found me at Serpico, a new-ish collaboration between the infamous Stephen Starr and ex-Momofuku chef Peter Serpico. The squat stone structure seems a little out of place on noisy and eclectic South Street, but it gives way to a large welcoming dining room complete with open kitchen. We were sent to the "bar" (a makeshift counter) for a few minutes before our seats opened up at the counter overlooking the action. I really enjoyed watching the chefs (including Mr. Serpico himself) and the expediter put on their nightly show.
The menu is heavy on the small plates, so my friend and I decided to split four of them. We're both suckers for poultry liver, so the duck liver mousse was a no-brainer ($10). While the portion was on the small side, the extremely smooth texture of the mousse, the sweet-tart dollops of pomegranate puree and a section of crusty grilled bread made for a satisfying start to the meal. Serpico also provides an impossibly thin piece of crispy sesame "cracker" to get the tastebuds warmed up.
The duck breast ($21) was incredibly well-cooked, again maintaining that incredibly flavorful skin that covered the velvety piece of meat. However, that was essentially the extent of what I liked- the sweet potato was plain and the chopped cabbage overly vinegared. My friend popped that green thing in his mouth, chewed, swallowed, and immediately admitted, "I maybe wasn't supposed to eat that."
We sat at the counter for almost three hours, slowly enjoying the food, company, and watching the chefs do their thing. Although we ended up paying a fair amount, I really felt like the whole experience was worth it. Next time, we'll go even heavier on the small plates!
604 South Street