I think I've found the happiest place in New York. Sadly, it comes at quite a cost, so I'll have to stick to spending time in the second happiest place in New York – Ample Hills – until I can afford to visit Santina regularly.
Santina sits in a glass cube underneath the Highline. In summer its side doors are flung upon and the restaurant spills out onto the cobbled streets and wide sidewalks. In winter, it looks like a tropical island which has landed from outer space in the middle of Antarctica.
We visited this coastal-Italy-meets-Hawaii restaurant for the first time last Saturday. Between the two of us we had multiple reasons to celebrate, plus the sun was shining, and I was jumping up and down with excitement about drinking my cocktail out of a pineapple. The moment we walked into Santina and were greeted by the hostess in a white pleated mini skirt and pink polo shirt, who stood underneath a colorful, floral chandelier, and bopped to the Italian music playing loudly throughout the airy room.
We were led to our little table, set up with the most beautiful, brightly colored, hand-painted, terra-cotta plates. While our cocktails were being shaken up at the bar, and a warm, gentle breeze blew in from the streets, we both decided that this was the perfect choice for our celebratory evening.
Cocktails soon arrived: Punch (because that's the one that comes in the pineapple) for me, and the Amalfi Gold for B (bourbon, orange, ginger, and peach). Both filled with plenty of ice, and balanced pertly on the right side of not-overly-sweet. We sipped and sipped, admired the chickpea pancakes our neighbors were feasting on, and decided that we'd quite like to move in here, pretty please.
Thankfully, the food didn't then go on to disappoint. We worked our way through salads of arugula and fig, the most stunning thinly sliced squash dotted with honey agrodolce, crisp sage, and crème fraîche, and a bitter caper and radicchio salad served over the top of melting tuna carpaccio. After we'd eaten all these beautiful (and, may I add, rather healthy) vegetables, we moved on to the most delicate, vivid ricotta tortellini (yes, I know, I am that predictable), and the sticky, smoky guajillo chicken with eggplant yogurt.
Sadly, they were no cannoli left – I guess it's important that we leave something to come back for. As a result, we ended our evening at the second happiest place in New York, which is, as I said, Ample Hills. It's therefore no surprise that this turned out to be one of the happiest evenings we've had in this never-sleeping, ever exhausting, often challenging city.
Santina, 820 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014