Located on West 18th Street Between 5th and 6th Avenues, Incognito Bistro brings Italy and Scotland a short walk away from Union Square!
At a Glance
“I think I’ll have the risotto with some haggis to start!”— Words that I never foresaw myself saying! Dining in New York always inspires revolutionary cultures and tastes, but Incognito Bistro really sets a new standard, combining classic Italian favorites with delicious Scottish twists. Scottish-Italian owners Chef Paolo Montana and his wife, Adriana Moretti, who also acts as the restaurant’s hostess, have clearly succeeded in bringing their dual heritage to life just minutes away from Union Square and Gramercy in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, but trained in traditional Roman cuisine, Chef Paolo makes sure to stock his kitchen and menu with all the classic Italian staples. Regardless of national origin, however, every dish sings a different ballad of flavors.
The meal started with the Anchovie and Black Olive Pizza, a dish that managed to be sweet, savory, and sour all at the same time as the overpowering saltiness of the fish found harmony with garden vegetables and fresh mozzarella. Next came the second starter, a refreshing Tuna Tartar, which combined succulent fish with a mix of summer fruits. The Green Pea Soup, a velvety silt of verdant cream, rounded out the starting courses.
For me, the highlight of the meal could be found within the resolutely ethnic courses. Before Incognito, I had never thought I would try Haggis, a classic Scottish pudding of sheep meat and occasionally organs. Composed of tender lamb sausage and turnips over a bed of creamy potatoes soaked in whisky jus, Incognito’s variant had me hooked! The preparation and presentation brought something akin to a shepherd’s pie that eliminated any fears or doubts regarding such an exotic delicacy.
Incognito continued to impress me with its pasta courses of which I sampled three: the San Paolo spaghetti drizzled with garlic and olive oil and topped with clams and pancetta (tender Italian bacon made from pork belly), a classic lasagna packed with meat, and mushroom risotto with porcini and truffle mushrooms. Every single pasta dish was al dente as well as flavorful in its own way, but the risotto deserves special mention.
To my delight, Incognito carries through on all of its promises—the truffles were authentic and Italian in every possible way. The blast of earthy flavor coupled with lighter, sweeter hues of wine-infused broth created the most extraordinary of risottos!
Additionally, for the allergic or health-conscious, Incognito also offers gluten-free and whole-wheat pasta alternatives on their menu.
Always generous, Chef Paolo allowed us to try both the Lemon Sole Fillet and Fillet Mignon for our main course. Topped with crispy breadcrumbs and a lemony white wine sauce over whipped potatoes, the Sole disappeared with a crunch as it melted in my mouth. The Fillet Mignon on the other hand was something to sit back and enjoy. Each bite presented a juicy, tender cut of meat. A combination of pepper corns, cognac, and cream made every bite a literal explosion of flavor. These classic entrees proved just as tasty as the appetizers and ethnic eats.
If you’re thinking that I was completely stuffed after the first six or so courses, you’re correct, but Adriana insisted that we enjoy dessert, and after the first look and a bite, I made room. Our five dessert plate consisted of Coppa Scosseze, a Scotland-influenced mix of Ice Cream, Marscapone, and Butterscotch, Tiramisu, Panna Cotta, Cheesecake, and Chocolate Torte. All I can recommend is that you try them all at some point. Among other things, Chef Paolo also excels at ice cream, pastries, berry compotes, sauces, and chocolate.
Throughout our meal, and in between a rainbow of fine European wines, the whimsical Adriana entertained us with stories of Incognito’s crowning accomplishments. The restaurant has been certified as authentically Italian by culinary authorities from Italy. Its décor consists of original art and painted columns by a descendant of the Pre-Raphaelite Albert Moore. In terms of fashion, Incognito’s entire staff is even decked out with the first-recognized, official Scottish-Italian tartan, Clan Italia. Additionally on Tuesday nights, Incognito features live jazz music.
All in all, Incognito Bistro brought my tastebuds and my heart a much-needed European vacation. Chef Paolo and Adriana have truly outdone themselves with creating an authentic, yet innovative dining experience. If you love Italian food, do yourself a favor and pay this establishment a visit, though be sure to try the Scottish offerings as well.
30 West 18th Street
(Between Fifth & Sixth Avenues)
New York, NY 10011
Open Monday to Saturday and closed on Sundays
Lunch is available from 11:30 to 4:00 and Dinner is on from 4:00 to 10:30 (11:00 on Saturdays). Happy hour is from 11:00 AM to 10:30 PM. All major credit cards accepted.