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4 days agoupdated Jul 11, 2024

New York’s Rezdôra Opens Sicilian Sister Restaurant, Massara 

Restaurant of the Week: Chef Stefano Secchi offers a secondi serving of Southern Italian cuisine.

By Ellys Woodhouse

New York City is hardly short on Italian restaurants. While it’s impossible to count each and every one of them, estimates put the total of Italian joints in NYC at around 2,000, with Michelin narrowing that down even further by suggesting around 50 that are worth your time – and appetite. 

Counting the total number of osterias seems enough of a challenge, there at least seems to be a consensus on the best. Beloved by critics and consumers alike, chef Stefano Secchi’s Rezdôra has been serving specialties from the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna since 2019.

Bedazzled with a star from Michelin and another three from the New York Times – and a feature on our own list of NYC’s Best Restaurants – Rezdôra has gardened a lesion of neighborhood fans, and even received a nod of approval from the motherland, with Top50 Italy ranking it within the top 10 of the best Italian restaurants in the world.  

[See also: Alaluna Opens in NYC’s West Village]

Massara’s pizza oven, imported from Naples / ©Massara

That consensus might be about to split, however, as Rezdôra now has a Scillian sister restaurant, Massara. Secchi is bringing his pasta-making know-how – along with a new pizza oven and wood-fired grills – to the new site on Broadway.

Can the city still be hungry for a secondi serving of Secchi’s Italian delicacies? Massara’s hours-long wait times and blacked-out Resy forms since opening in mid-June would suggest New Yorkers are starving. 

Must order:

Any of the pasta dishes (obviously, its a staple of Secchi after all) but don’t skip on the al forno-pizzettes, made with a 35-year-old starter

What to drink:

Out of of the many interpretations of the Southern Italian spritz, our pick is the Strega Nona Needs a Spritz, made with Amante 1530, Strega, lemon bitters and prosecco

Best seat in the house:

The table closest to the open kitchen, offering a prime view of that magnificent pizza oven

[See also: Osteria BBR: Alain Ducasse’s new incarnation at Raffles]

Of course, this is Stefano Secchi, so pasta takes center stage here / ©Massara

Chef

While his childhood may have been spent in Texas, Italo-American Secchi’s upbringing was very much rooted in Italian culture. His strong sense of Sardinian heritage – inherited through his father’s bloodline – led him to Modena, where he learned to hone his skills at the famed Osteria Francescana under Massimo Bottura.

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It was later under the tutelage of Nonna Laura Morandi at Hosteria Giusti that he perfected the art of handmade pasta, which would later take center stage at his Flat Iron establishment. Now, Massara takes a more nostalgic look at Italian cooking. Here, Secchi plates up servings inspired by childhood memories of visiting Southern Italy and the region’s rich abundance of farms and fisheries. 

[See also: Andy Hayler’s Guide to the Best Italian Restaurants in London]

The menu also highlights picks from Massara’s wood-fired grill / ©Massara

“Massara celebrates our deep exploration of regional Italian cooking, with a focus on Southern Italy,” the chef said in the announcement of the restaurant’s opening. “From the fresh seafood sourced on the Amalfi Coast, peppered with hillsides covered in lemon groves, to iconic pizza from Naples, to its bountiful farmland, home to the native water buffalo – Campania is one of Italy’s richest agricultural regions.”

Menu

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Secchi establishment if we didn’t mention the pasta. Yet, as a man in search of culinary pleasure but with well-drawn principles, in both restaurants, Secchi has made a clear commitment to only serving food from his set region.

That means at the Campania-centric Massara, don’t expect the likes of agnolotti, tortellini or pici. Instead, the menu is filled with the likes of corteccia with sausage ragù in bianca; candele with ragù Genovese; and “Cheesemakers Raviolini”, filled with buffalo mozzarella and layered with passata. For those feeling more adventurous – or the New York heat – there’s also a cold spaghetti dish, dubbed “If Pasta Fredda was Eaten in Amalfi,” which pairs the chilled noodles with raw red shrimp and almonds.

[See also: Romeo Napoli Welcomes Alain Ducasse]

“If Pasta Fredda Was Eaten in Amalfi” / ©Massara

Looking to other carb-heavy delicacies, however, the open-style kitchen and menu also showcase the huge wood-fired grill that takes center stage at Massara.

If you can make it through the Italian’s customary four courses, ensure you leave space for dessert, where executive pastry chef Dominique Canvin presents a menu inspired by pastries including warm Sfogliatella with fig, pistachio and citron fillings; Bocconotti tartlets with sweet filling; and Baba au Rhum. 

Drink choices are similarly disciplined but nonetheless delectable. The wine menu only features bottles from regions like Sardinia and Sicily, meanwhile, cocktails and spirits put the spotlight on the citrus and herbs that grow along the country’s sunny southern coastline. 

[See also: Luca: Tradition Meets Modernity in Historic Part of London]

Sarah Carpenter & Studio worked on Massara’s interiors / ©Massara

Interior

Designer Sarah Carpenter & Studio transformed the two-story site on Broadway, marrying the building’s rich New York heritage with natural Italian materials. The open-concept kitchen positions the wood-fired Acunto pizza oven (shipped in from Naples) to take center stage, which can be framed in raw Italian limestone and tiled in travertine flagstone. 

Massra’s open-style kitchen / ©Massara

In the daytime, natural light pours in through the three-story atrium windows, and as the night draws in, vintage Murano pendant lights hanging above the classic Carrara bartop dim down the mood.

massara.nyc

[See also: Otto Geleng: Dinner at Sicily’s Most Exclusive Restaurant]

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