If Don Draper had a summer home in Palermo, Italy, it would look a bit like Sessanta, the glam lobby restaurant from prolific downtown plutocrat John McDonald (Lure Fishbar, Bowery Meat Company) inside the Sixty Soho hotel. Inspired by a moodier Italian coast than Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi’s breezy Santina, the 100-seat dining room is appointed in Giò Ponti style with slat-board maple walls and ad-man-worthy framed armchairs.
The menu from Hearth and Momofuku alum Jordan Frosolone taps into his father’s Sicilian lineage and is similarly masculine, heartily garnished with pistachios, olives and pork sausage. To start, there’s a spread of “street food”: snappy polpette glazed with Italian honey ($14), smoky arancini flecked with prosciutto cotto ($10) and, best of all, a tempura-light tumble of fritto misto ($14), crackly shrimp, broccoli and snap peas in branded newspaper.
Frosolone’s daintier primo dishes (scallop crudo primly dressed with cantaloupe, $18; timid artichokes with ricotta and spring onions, $15) are dwarfed by the muscle of his pastas and mains. At times, that heft verges on overpowering—tender fennel tortelli($26) are gorged with a saffron-zapped filling as rich as cannoli cream, made more gluttonous by a topping of fried anchovies. But Frosolone largely balances that brawn in plates like al dente anneloni tossed with briny bigeye tuna ragù and zingy chilies ($24), and his elegant take on veal marsala ($34), offsetting meaty mushrooms and capers with a splash of fruity wine.
Then there’s the head-turning, three-person Timballo di Zanghi ($41), an eggplant-wrapped kettledrum of chunky pork ragù and ring-shaped anelletti that gets snowed with Parmesan well after you’ve said “when.” Trust me, you’ll be glad they didn’t listen.
By Christina Izzo