Don Angie Owners Open a New Italian Spot in Manhattan

Wine

San Sabino is the latest endeavor from the team behind Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Don Angie, one of the hardest-to-get reservations in New York City. The new restaurant features seafood-focused, Italian American cuisine and an accessible wine list. Open since March 12, San Sabino is next door to Don Angie in Manhattan’s West Village. Like its sibling restaurant, it represents a partnership between co-owners and chefs Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli (a wife-and-husband duo) and restaurateur Michael Stillman of the Quality Branded hospitality group, which owns the original Smith & Wollensky steak house as well as Bad Roman in New York, among other restaurants.

Rito and Tacinelli—authors of the cookbook Italian American—opened Don Angie in 2017 to critical acclaim, adding to a wave of fine-dining Italian restaurants garnering attention across the U.S. In the years since, Don Angie has earned praise for its list of Italian and American wines as well as dishes like a rosette-shaped lasagna for two and a chrysanthemum salad heaped with shaved Parmesan. At their new restaurant, Rito and Tacinelli are focused on fish, but still keeping a throughline of decadent showstopping dishes.

“I don’t think of the programming at San Sabino as a differentiation from Don Angie, but rather as a natural extension, building on what has made Don Angie’s food and beverage programs so successful over the past seven years,” Quality Branded beverage director Meng Chiang, who oversees the San Sabino wine list, told Wine Spectator via email. “We tried to stick to [Rito and Tacinelli’s] ethos in creating the list, with natural adjustments for San Sabino’s more seafood-focused dishes.”

Butter-yellow in the sun, the dining room at San Sabino turns golden at nighttime. (Alice Gao)

The 55-seat restaurant (named after Tacinelli’s grandfather, Sabino) is located on 113 Greenwich Avenue, on the intersection with Jane street. GRT Architects (who also designed Don Angie) styled the dining room in a butter-yellow hue that glows under warm evening light. The space is mid-century modern with a mix of Italian design elements like glossy handmade tiles, lacquered mahogany tables and natural stone accents.

Don Angie Goes Out to Sea

While Don Angie elevates and harkens back to traditional East Coast Italian dining (meaning white tablecloths and red-sauce dishes), San Sabino’s primary focus is seafood, drawing inspiration from Italian American coastal communities in the U.S., like those of New Orleans, San Francisco, New Jersey and New York. (That is, San Sabino does not serve the cuisine of coastal Italy.) The menu takes a tongue-in-cheek approach: Guests start the meal with the likes of a terrazzo-patterned octopus with spicy capocollo, or a 1950s-style crab and mortadella dip dressed with pistachios and dill over Ritz crackers.

As at Don Angie, Rito and Tacinelli feature a roster of handmade pastas like lobster triangoli with a black garlic–laced white vodka sauce and a spin on spaghetti alle vongole with Manila clams and fruity Peruvian aji amarillo chiles. With their seafood entrées, the chefs offer bold presentations, including the photo-worthy “Parm”, a dish of three large Ecuadorian U5 prawns blanketed in arrabbiata sauce and stracchino cheese. Even the restaurant’s “turf” features a bit of “surf”, as with a lightly breaded steak “Magazzino” topped with anchovy chili crisp and pine nuts.

 Plate of wild langoustines with New Orleans scampi butter at San Sabino, next to a glass of white wine

San Sabino takes inspiration from the United States’ coasts, like in these wild langoustines with “New Orleans” scampi butter. (Evan Sung)

Making an “Italian American” Wine List

Chiang’s motive with the wine list was to approach “familiar grapes and producers in new and unexpected directions,” focusing entirely on the wines of Italy and America (not counting three Champagnes). Expect West Coast wines made from lesser-known Italian varieties, with bottlings such as the Ribolla Gialla-Friulano blend, Massican Annia California 2022. While the list features leading Italian wineries, Chiang represents them with lesser-known labels; this includes G.D. Vajra’s Langhe Freisa and G.B. Burlotto’s Verduno Pelaverga.

With more than 120 selections, the wine list at San Sabino is balanced between blue-chip bottles and wines at lower prices: Guests can find rarer bottlings like Gaja Barbaresco 2000 or Giuseppe Rinaldi Brunate-Le Coste Barolo 1999, but around 40 wines are priced less than $100. “San Sabino, above all else, is a neighborhood restaurant, and a neighborhood restaurant should have something for everyone,” said Chiang. Meanwhile, the by-the-glass list features well-known names like Italy’s Roagna, and Nino Negri (including a white Nebbiolo wine) and California’s Stolpman.

“[Building] a wine list that comes close to, let alone matches, the amazing quality of Angie and Scott’s food was quite daunting,” said Chiang. “Once we tasted the food and found the right tone to complement … the selections that made sense came relatively easily as if they’d always been there.”

Rito has also put together a program of Italian-accented cocktails, including “the Sabinooch”, a mix of Mezcal, house-made Moscato Chinato and grapefruit, as well as “the Benny”, a prickly pear margarita with bergamot and chiles.

San Sabino is open from Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, and it will offer lunch service at a later date. Reservations can be found on Resy.

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