Review: The new Whitney District takes off

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Tortellini Sorrentina at SantinaMay 12, 2015- By Steven E. Greer

There has been the despicable cheesy Meatpacking District for decades, where one can see on any given night drunk millennial females puking in the streets. No intelligent person in their right mind would go there for an evening out.

Now, right in the middle of this depravity has emerged the new Whitney Districtâ„¢. With the opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort Street by the High Line, civilized people can now congregate for the art and two chef-driven restaurants. Mario Carbone opened his coastal Italian restaurant called Santina (named after his grandmother), which is basically a greenhouse structure built under the High Line, and Michael Anthony has opened his restaurant called Untitled.

I was bored on a Monday with certain insomnia to set in, as it has for days, so I drove up to check out this new area. I first went into Untitled expecting to see yet another bad new restaurant by Danny Meyer. What I found instead is the next great food scene, and Mr. Anthony was there in person.

Untitled insideI had a 30-minute conversation with him. He will be leading this new restaurant for the foreseeable future and brought the best chefs of Gramercy Tavern with him. He denies leaving Gramercy Tavern, but I have a feeling that he has.

Chef Anthony, a world renowned chef, not knowing who I was, took the time to chat up a storm with me. We are both Ohioans, it seems. It was remarkable humility and hospitality. I expect good things from Untitled and will go back soon to dine and review.

I then walked a short distance away to Santina. After reading that they have succumbed to the gluten-intolerance craze by making all of the desserts gluten-free, I had a chip on my shoulder going into this place as well. As I walked in, it was too busy to get a seat, so I left, only to exchange glances with smoking hot actress Carla Gugino who was walking in. (She looked at me as if she thought she knew me, which is odd. I don’t think we have met.)

It took me a while to process it, but I realized that it was indeed Carla Gugino, so I persevered and went back in to find a seat at the bar. Sadly, she disappeared, but it led me to eat a second dinner for the evening, which was fortuitous.

Santina is another restaurant by Torissi and Carbone that could be a mini-art museum. There is a mural by Julian Schnabel on the wall, and the food is plated as legitimate art.

Julian Schnabel  mural SantinaI had the bartender decide for me, and he sent out a Tortellini Sorrentina. It is a green pasta atop red sauce in a blue plate. The flavor was strong and unique.

Tortellini Sorrentina at SantinaBy this point, my Negroni drink had kicked in, so I went nuts and ordered another entree. The spaghetti with blue crab was spicy with arrabiata sauce.

spaghetti with blue crab at SantinaIn summary, the two restaurants and the museum on the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets have created an entirely new district, distinct from the cheap nightclubs of Meatpacking District, that I call the Whitney District. This is a place where you can take your family or a date whom you want to impress. It should not be confused with the Meatpacking District at all.

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