De Grezia is the foodie equivalent of a zero point one earthquake: it simply isn’t noticed in this city of big, brash, publicity-studded restaurants. The family that runs it most certainly has no publicist, no menu consultant, no Internet site. Yet, if you put it anywhere else, De Grezia would be one of the finer restaurants in town. Here, it is barely noticed.
The business associate who suggested De Grezia for a meal we shared in early October said he favors the restaurant because it is quiet, the food is excellent, and it’s a pleasant alternative to yet another Smith & Wollensky dinner. He mentioned that the restaurant has several excellent private rooms that are perfect for a confidential business negotiation, because “no one will know you’re there.”
The restaurant is on the lower level of a townhouse. The décor is lovely and soothing. Service is highly professional. I started with an appetizer of black penne pasta studded with seafood (scallops, shrimps, calamari). The entrée was a wonderful branzino, cooked whole. The waiter promised tableside filleting, but after showing me the fish as it had come out of the over, it was whisked away to be plated back in the kitchen.
The ‘buzz’ some restaurants get is a curious thing. Two nights earlier, I found the Sea Bass entrée at the much-lauded Hearth underwhelming. At the unheralded De Grezia, I had a far more pleasant encounter with another member of the bass family, the branzino. In my mind, there was no doubt at all which was the better restaurant.
De Grezia (231 E. 50th Street, near Second Avenue, Turtle Bay)