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San Sabino

Christine Drinan, Founder

One of the buzziest openings in recent NYC dining history is the arrival of San Sabino, the brainchild of Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli. San Sabino joins its knockout sibling Don Angie to partner with the Quality Branded Group. But like the clear identity of Don Angie, San Sabino is, we would say, an even bigger disruptor on the restaurant scene. This is the first look.

Atmosphere

The designers of San Sabino clearly understand that lighting is everything. San Sabino is a restaurant that if it wasn’t so darned hard to get into, should be your go-to neighborhood date night spot. It doesn’t matter either if you live in the neighborhood. Whether you live on the Upper West Side, New Jersey – heck Chicago – it’s worth the trip.

But I digress; everyone looks attractive in the dining room of San Sabino. The reason is that soft-hued golden warm light that’s so good, it would be coveted by an Instagram influencer. It sets the mood for the relatively small boîte of a place. The design is a simple yet very elevated decor that has an almost airstream sixties diner feel with its leather booths. The overall setup is refreshing because you’re not on top of other diners. Additionally, there’s a bar reserved for dining with about 16  seats for walk-ins. People line up as early as 4:30 pm to put their name in at 5:00, for waits anywhere from an hour to four hours.

An Identity All Its Own

I think something to point out as well is that while San Sabino is part of the Don Angie and Quality Branded empire, it has a distinct identity of its own. You wouldn’t guess by the decor that they’re all part of the same food group. Maybe the only thing in common are the diners, who are clearly foodies. The atmosphere is so good though that you don’t really care who you’re eating next to, which speaks volumes as I love me a good people-watching scene.

Food + Wine

I normally lead with food but finally, there’s a restaurant that cares about the wines by the glass list. San Sabino not only has one of the best wines by the glass list as well as a top bottle list of Italian gems, but it’s also reasonable. The Super Tuscan we had was $20/glass, which is unheard of nowadays in NYC. And it was excellent. Cocktails are also inventive and unique to what you’ll find anywhere, including from its sister restaurant Don Angie. It goes back to the point that the team behind San Sabino isn’t dialing it in with their restaurants. Each restaurant in the group is distinct yet has the same DNA of people who clearly love food.

Dishes You will Crave

Now onto the food which I’ll nutshell: San Sabino is disrupting the food industry with their unique menu and execution of each dish. You may not love every single dish but you will respect it. Every table should start out with the cheesy frittelle, which is the Italian version of a fried wonton stuffed with cheese and honey. From there, the scallop crudo had an unexpected kiwi with buttermilk and hazelnut. It was so good we almost ordered it again for dessert.

The spicy tuna inspired the same awe as the scallops, where I’ve never had this combination of flavors. It was like I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I liked it with the broken arancini and scallion cream. Surprisingly I wasn’t crazy about the pastas compared to the starters. However, compared to anything right now on the dining scene, they define prolific. Yes, this is the first time you’re seeing stuffed farfalle, and in this case, the treasure inside is smoked chili crab and tobiko. The lobster triangle was a little more predictable with white vodka sauce, but still a star if you’re not comparing it to this menu of stars.

Speaking of which, everyone is talking about the shrimp parm. What you may not know and would definitely not expect, is how much the shrimp tastes like chicken. I had a Jessica Simpson moment; like is this chicken or tuna?  It’s bizarre and mind-blowing and should be ordered if only for the experience.

The only area that I wasn’t excited about at all was the dessert. We had the caramelized crespelle which was like a crepe with a creme bruelee type texture. I would have opted and will opt for the scallop and the tuna tartare for dessert next time.

Service

Everyone who works here seems to know that they have themselves a hit. It’s kind of like on a movie set when you know you’re going to win an Oscar. The team is perfectly choreographed and passionate about what they’re doing at San Sabino. I don’t blame them; this place is one of the best restaurant openings in NYC this year.

Overall: 8.5/10.

I didn’t love everything I ate but what I loved I would come back for again and again.

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FAQs

Q: Where is San Sabino located?

A: San Sabino is located a few doors down from its sister restaurant Don Angie at 113 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014.

Q: What are the hours of operation of San Sabino?

A: The hours of operation of San Sabino are as follows:

Thursday
  • 5–11 PM
Friday
  • 5–11 PM
Saturday
  • 5–11 PM
Sunday
  • 5–11 PM
Monday
  • 5–11 PM
Tuesday
  • 5–11 PM
Wednesday
  • 5–11 PM

Q: Do you need reservations at San Sabino?

A: The answer to this is a resounding heck yes. Otherwise, you will have to queue up about an hour before they open to wait to put your name on the list. From there, the wait if you’re not one of the first 10 or so folks in line will be anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. The other tip though is if you’re a solo diner, pop in around 10 to see if there’s an open spot. Think of it as a European dinner – it’s worth it.

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