It's always a sad affair when any restaurant closes, but when that restaurant was local favorite Terrine, it's an especially tough loss. The 2-year old space officially shuttered New Years, but quickly flipped into The Ponte, a new concept for Chopped judge and former Scarpetta chef Scott Conant, who's bringing some Italian flare to this former French brasserie. In addition to the menu, restaurateur Stephane Bombet also flipped the space, ushering in a mid-century modern look with serious Mad Men vibes. But don't worry; they haven't done away with the beautiful back patio (they would be crazy to), remaining one of the best outdoor dining choices in the city. We popped in for brunch recently, and enjoyed their Italian take on standard brunch fare in addition to some classic Conant offerings (the Pasta al Pomodoro is his signature).
Their full bar is still run by Ryan Wainwright, and provides classic brunch libations from a Bloody Mary to an Aperol Spritz, in addition to some more Italian-sounding drinks (like the Sbagliato-- a combination of campari, vermouth, and prosecco). They also have some Italian sodas, like a Housemade Bitter Lemon Tonic.
We started off our meal with a healthy portion of Avocado Toast, served on a thick and crunchy toast that somehow was also quite manageable (I can't stand toasts that break your jaw because the bread is so thick). The avocado was chunky and creamy, and offset nicely by the sweet and spicy salsa calabrese. Fresh, thinly sliced radish provided a bit of crunch, making this a well-balanced avocado toast and definitely a great version of it.
Though it wasn't dessert yet, we couldn't help but order the Ricotta Toast with nutella on brioche, which is as indulgent and delicious as it sounds. Unsurprisingly, it was a rich bite, but the crushed nuts on top added a nice crunchy counterpoint to the soft bread and creamy toppings. Of course, the dish was fairly sweet from the nutella, but the ricotta actually kept it from being too sweet. Definitely a must-try upon your next visit!
Baked eggs in polenta and puttanesca may not be your first choice during the hot summer months, but the hot, comforting dish was nevertheless a treat. Seriously, what could be bad about runny eggs and creamy polenta in a zesty, savory puttanesca sauce? Short answer: nothing. Spooned out of the casserole dish and served on the accompanying toasted brunch, it's a satisfying brunch dish that doesn't feel overly heavy or indulgent.
Finally, we of course had to get Conant's famous Pasta Al Pomodoro, and naturally it lived up to the hype. Cooked a tiny bit al dente and definitely substantial, the pasta itself is pretty perfect and presented in a beautiful, swirled column. I loved the fresh tomato sauce, and appreciated the generous use of garlic and olive oil, creating a dish that is harmonious, really tasty, and so well done in its simplicity. Pasta may seem like an odd choice for brunch, but at The Ponte, it's undoubtedly the only way to finish your meal.
Overall, we had a really nice brunch at The Ponte. Everything was tasty and satisfying, but the best dishes were undoubtedly those that put Conant's Italian cooking roots on display. Even though we're sad to see the end of Terrine, we're relieved that it's been replaced by a restaurant churning out good food for the neighborhood and visitors alike, and we'd gladly come back to try more.