For their follow-up to Carbone, the Torrisi boys and restaurateur Jeff Zalaznick opened a tiny restaurant specializing in composed seafood plates and elaborate cocktails. So far, early diners love the food and the libations at ZZ's Clam Bar, although many people complain about the prices (check out the full menu right this way). Here's a roundup of what diners are saying about the small, pricey, somewhat exclusive new restaurant from Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone, and Jeff Zalaznick:
The "Pricey But Good" News: This Yelper thinks that ZZ's is expensive but worth it: "Let's just get this out of the way: it's expensive. Really expensive. Don't plan on coming here to get absolutely stuffed in the same way you would with the many comparably priced 7-20 course tasting menus at the top restaurants across the city. But, if you are a seafood fan, money permitting (expense account, lottery win, etc), it is a must try. Of the dishes we tried, the only miss was the beef toast, which of course was the only non-seafood thing we had. The list of tasty items is just too long, but our absolute favorite was the uni toast, somewhat hidden towards the top of the menu." [Yelp]
The Not-So-Fresh News: The Food Doc has a hard time justifying the prices: "[Q]uality does not come cheap, for sure, but to charge such exorbitant prices the chefs must create dishes that not only preserve the freshness and taste of the fish but also present the seafood in novel and interesting preparations. At ZZ's, that is not always the case.... The langoustines had a strong fishy flavor that made me question their freshness, which was a pity since the accompanying sweet corn puree and watermelon relish was a perfect accompaniment to the crustacean meat. And the $100 beef carpaccio? It was an exercise in culinary excess: I was quickly overwhelmed by the richness of the dry-aged Chianina beef, sea urchin and caviar...[T]o be worth its price, ZZ's must step up its game food wise: it cannot coast on reggae music and inventive cocktails alone." [The Food Doc]
The "Exclusive Vibe" News: NYC Foodie has some intel about the scene at the door: "I stopped in a week ago and was blown away with the amazing and unique fare being served here. A few things to note though: 1. The place is not cheap. In fact, it's very pricey. If you are on a budget, this place is not for you. Each cocktail will cost you $20. The food is definitely awesome. But some dishes come at a price. Just want to stress that. I dropped $242 including tip just on myself. I indulged on 3 cocktails (which is $60) right there!) 2. There is a bouncer out front. The place is small, so I guess I can understand that. I recommend making a reservation though, because the bouncer would not let me in at first, which I strongly dislike. But, that being said, if you are a foodie like me, and don't care about prices when it comes to culinary adventures, ZZ's Clam Bar is worth checking out." [NYC Foodie]
The Great News: Another Yelper loves the fish and the service: "ZZ's clam bar is putting out the finest raw fish in New York. As precisely cut as Yasuda before the loss of its eponymous leader and as inventive as Gari before expansion. Add to that a stunning jewel-box of a room and service that is at the same time professional and downtown casual (after hearing us grumble about the size of one of the much-derided — but exceptionally tasty — $20 cocktails served in an elaborate golden pineapple, the maitre d', with hilarious ceremony, dropped off a companion golden pineapple —1/10th its size. It was the highlight of the night and indicative of a finely tuned staff that can gauge the tone of a group's meal and react accordingly). Try the coconut, hallowed out, filled with rum and a burning cinnamon stick. Kitchy? Yes. Wonderful? We ordered 4." [Yelp]
The "How to Order" News: One Eater Commenter has a few tips on how to order: "While there are many very expensive items on the menu, there are a lot in the $20 range as well and they are all phenomenal. I ate there last night with two friends and we ordered 5 dishes (salmon, trout, lobster, scallops, and sardines), a dozen oysters and three cocktails and only spent about $75 each in total. Obviously that's not 'cheap' but its certainly not on the expensive end for Manhattan either."
The "Easy On The Eyes" News: Despite the restaurant's jewel-box size, this Yelper adores the bar and service pieces: "The restaurant itself is BEAUTIFUL! Thick marble slab tables, delicate, vintage mother of pearl handled flat wear and small oil lamps on each table. A small vintage-style marble topped bar with appropriately clad mixologist behind it. Just dark enough with funky 1950s bossanova covers of jazz standards playing in the background! We started the evening with a cocktail at bar while waiting for the previous party to vacate our table - our first round was comped for our patience (!) despite their only running about 15 min behind. All the cocktails we tried (strawberry, almond, pineapple and apricot) were OUTSTANDING. Well balance and expertly mixed. Each served in it's own specific vessel. I say vessel because the pineapple arrived in a brass pineapple!" [Yelp]
The "Precious But Delicious" News: One blogger finds that the food lives up to the hype: "I'd save up my sheckels for more of the silvery cured sardines. The mound of trout crudo, with pops of trout roe (an ingredient I have been finding on a plethora of Manhattan menus) and a barrage of crispy fried leeks is a study in the interplay between salt, fat and crunch. I covet one more scoop of the sweet with a slight chili bite of the coconut milk-soaked lobster ceviche. The razor clam toast amuse bouche." [Knives! Camera! Action!]
The "Slightly Too Expensive" News: From another Eater commenter: "I ate here a couple weeks ago. I thought the food and drink were great, but insanely overpriced. I've been eagerly waiting for everyone to see the prices on their menu. When I received my bill, the prices were actually much higher than had been printed on the menu. As a result, they did not charge us for one of our drinks ($20) or the tuna carpaccio ($50). I thought this was very noble of them, but it still didn't equate to a bargain. As a result we only had to pay for 4 small dishes and 2 drinks: $230."
· All Coverage of ZZ's Clam Bar [~ENY~]
— Lily Freedman and Greg Morabito