Sugo! e Basilico… the Best Burrito in Midtown???
I have been very outspoken when it comes to burritos. Various posts have had me prattling on about how there are no good authentic burritos in Midtown, Chipotle sucks, Burritoville is just glorified wraps, blah blah blah. So I’m almost embarassed about what I am about to write. If push came to shove, I would never call something a burrito if it wasn’t Mexican. But that being said, the other day, while I sat in the recently opened Sugo! e Basilico, munching on my Campo Piadina Wrap, it occured to me, that what I was eating was possibly the best burrito I’ve had since I started working in Midtown. It was definitely not Mexican (it is Italian), and there was no rice and beans, or guacamole or sour cream- so technically it’s not a burrito. But it’s stuff, wrapped up in something pretty similar to a tortilla, and most importantly, it was delicious. A delicious Italian burrito. (Hey, if Taco Bell can have a “Mexican Pizza”…)
Sugo! is a fairly new, soon to be fast food chain, an Italian Chipotle if you will, but instead of Mexican burritos, they specialize in Piadina, an Italian flat bread that gets stuffed with various Mediterranean ingredients of your choosing. There is only one location right now (on 5th Ave. btw. 44+45th), but I’m guessing if this one is sucessful (and I’m pretty sure it will be), there are plenty more to come.
What I got, piadina porn and a +/- after the jump…
The one downside about Sugo! e Basilico is that the menu is a little confusing. The menu has four choices under “bread”, but it’s really only two. You can either have crescenta, which is like a foacaccia, or the piadina, which is basically an Italian tortilla. If you decide on the Piadina, you can either have it served folded over (which I believe is the authentic Italian way of eating it) or wrapped up into a burrito like bundle (the Piadina wrap). The fourth option is just getting the ingredients in salad form, with bread on the side.
Once you’ve decided on the bread, and how you want your sandwich served, they have 5 pre-made “Originals” to choose from. The Campo (which is a chicken “cacciatore” type of filling), the Terreno (Salmon), Fiore (Beef), Sirocco (Prosciutto & Stracchino) or Botanico (Vegetarian). Each one has a pre ordained list of add ons that get stuffed into the piadina. If you don’t like any of the combinations they’ve created, you can create your own. To create your own, you choose one of the 6 meats they offer, and then add whatever toppings you want on top of that. They list “half portion” and “whole portion” prices, but I have no idea what a half portion would be.
I ended up ordering the Campo Piadina, which came with Lettuce, chicken “cacciatora”, peas, mushrooms, tomatoes, grilled eggplant (which actually was breaded, so I’m guessing they meant fried on a griddle), and a “campo” sauce. The whole thing tasted really good together, with the eggplant being the best part. I don’t know if I’ve ever had Chicken Cacciatore before, but I think it’s supposed to taste similar to that… although I think they might put peas in it as a substitue for capers (which is funny, since they taste nothing alike). I ordered the Piadina, instead of the Piadina Wrap, which meant that it came folded, but not in a way that made it easy to eat without making a mess. The picture made it seem like it would be served soft taco style (or like a large quesadilla without cheese), but this was more like a poorly wrapped burrito. Despite the mess, it was delicious.
My wife ordered the Botanico Piadina Wrap, which is their vegetarian option. It came with mixed greens, roasted peppers (stuffed with bread crumbs), pine nuts, fontina cheese, and cherry tomatoes, the whole thing topped with an olive oil that had been flavored with garlic and basil. I hesitate to call it a pesto, because it hadn’t actually been blended up very well- but the flavor was essentially the same. I’m not usually an advocate for meatless lunches (when meat is an option), but I have to say this choice was so good, I could see myself ordering it next time I go.
The star of the whole thing was the stuffed roasted red peppers, which were delicious with the pine nuts, cheese and “pesto”. The one complaint my wife had was that it was super oily. And I have to say, she wasn’t just being health conscious in that loser, I’m trying to be healthy kind of way. It literally had oil sauce dripping out the bottom, which is not entirely surprising, since they used a ladle to put the “Botanico Sauce” on. If you want it less oily, make sure to ask them to go light on the sauce.
All in all, a great lunch and I will definitely be going back. Another friend ordered the Steak Piadina, which came with a balsamic vinagrette sauce, and he seemed pretty pleased. He also claimed to have an eaiser time eating his- but since there’s no difference between the taste, I’m not exactly sure why anyone would not want them to wrap it up into an easy to eat bundle- but hey, that’s just me. It might not be the replacement for Chiptole I’ve been looking for, but it’s easily the best Italian burrito I’ve ever had.
THE + (what people who like this place would say)
- I like my food wrapped up in Burrito form
- I like Italian/Mediterranean flavors and ingredients (in burrito form)
- The breaded eggplant and stuffed red peppers are especially good
- The piadina bread is really good, and it appears to be cooked up fresh on premise (although they might only be heating it up on the skillet… not positive)
THE – (what people who don’t like this place would say)
- The Piadina is really hard to eat, and messy. The whole thing falls apart.
- Some of the sauces are way too oily
- The menu is really confusing, and depeding on what you order, it can be pretty expensive
Sugo! e Basilico, 545 5th Ave. (btw. 44+45th), 212-682-4200
More photos on the Midtown Lunch Flickr Photo Page