Coastal views, seaside glimpses, beach fragments. Seen from above, Antonio Mermolia’s dishes are the depiction of southern Italian life, slowly consummated hour after hour savoring food, surrounded by beautiful local landscapes. Thirty years old, born and bred in Calabria, for the past two years Mermolia has been running the kitchen of Il Punto, a long-lived Italian restaurant founded by entrepreneur Tony Pecora in Hell’s Kitchen, west of Midtown, a new hip spot in town. It is worth visiting Il Punto to discover what young Italian cuisine can offer in New York, off the beaten path of the usual starred restaurants. Mediterranean and evocative flavors are paired up with Manhattan’s accelerated rhythms, creating unexpected sauces and textures, such as “powdered” oil or charred orange as steak seasoning. His vision is in the dishes: a shrimp and blackberries mixed salad topped with a scoop of Tropea red onion gelato; squid ink ravioli stuffed with lemon-flavored ricotta cheese; tenderloin on a velvety potato soup and, finally, little surprises such as the struncatura, a callous homemade pasta made of durum wheat flour, which can be found only in very few Calabrian villages, and today also in New York.
Bio: A self-taught chef, Antonio Mermolia was born in Gioia Tauro, Reggio Calabria. He came to New York after training at La Capinera, a one-Michelin-star restaurant in Taormina.