Pete Wells made his first trip to Santina, the coastal Italian restaurant from team Torrisi beneath the High Line in January and found a source of eternal summer, or more accurately a summer day on the "Italian Riviera during the 1950s or '60s," complete with palm trees and a playlist of sambas and cha-chas. There's food to match, with an infusion of that uniquely over-the-top Torrisi style, courtesy of Mario Carbone, who runs the kitchen here, and chef de cuisine Dan Haar:
Almost all the food at Santina pulses with the bright, refreshing flavors we crave in hot weather and, it turns out, in other months, too: jolts of chiles, sparks of citrus. Fresh herbs are tossed around frequently and enthusiastically. Chives, mint and basil turn a wonderfully gentle tomato-free minestrone garden-green... tortellini sorrentina (delicate eggy pasta sheets stuffed with soft sheep's milk ricotta) are surrounded by raw marinara sauce and some olive oil mixed liberally with, what else, fresh herbs.
While many of the items towards the top of the menu impress Wells, "occasionally a heavy hand gets the better of the kitchen.... blue crab meat with spaghetti became mired in an oily glop of tomato sauce," and a rice dish with guanciale was excessively fatty. Most of the desserts are duds as well. But, by the end of a meal here, that likely won't be too bothersome, says Wells. The restaurant receives two stars, the same rating Ryan Sutton gave it last month.