Lost in the shuffle of this year's high-profile openings has been a major lingering question: What ever happened to Scott Conant? One of the city's top Italian chefs, Conant last year gave up both of his restaurants, L'Impero and Alto, to pursue a mystery project. (Michael White took over both places, to great acclaim.) Conant monkeyed around in the Hamptons, consulting for a friend, but only now is his next real project in view.
He will be the chef-owner of Scarpetta, which will open in the meatpacking district this spring at 355 West 14th Street. The place is conceived as seasonal Italian and will feature the kind of elegant, yet elemental and assertive food Conant is known for, such as imported ricotta raviolini with chicken livers and spinach purée, and calamarata pasta with mixed seafood and sea urchin. The room, which is designed by S. Russell Groves, will hold 70 seats, have a long mahogany bar, and a twenty-seat café in the front.