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Branzino with Arugula Sauce from Chef Sandro Romano of Armani Ristorante in New York

Armani Ristorante hasn’t exactly barged its way into the New York culinary scene.  Some wags have even suggested that Giorgio Armani opened the place solely to be able to enjoy pasta his way. He’d made no effort to conceal his displeasure with the heavily sauced pastas he’d been served in New York.  The restaurant, on the third floor of the flagship Armani store at 717 Fifth Ave. (Tel: 212 207 1902), has a lunch following that drops off the minute the store closes.  It’s then that you use the entrance right around the corner on 56th  Street. But things may well be on the upswing with the arrival of Sandro Romano.

Chef Romano in his kitchen
Chef Romano was at The Modern, the wildly successful Danny Meyer restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art for 8 years.  To salute his arrival, Florence Fabricant of the New York Times approached the chef for a recipe to complement an article on Greek wines.  The Chef came up with a recipe for Branzino with a semi-warm arugula sauce that the roasted fish sits on.  It has the bitterness of arugula combined with enough citrus to give the sauce some acidity which is very complimentary to the floral quality of Greek wines.  And it’s a breeze to make, taking all of 40 minutes from start to finish.

Branzino may be the name the fish is most commonly called in this country.  But it has a number of other names including European seabass.  The French give it not one but two names: On the Atlantic Coast it’s called Bar Commun and in the Mediterranean, Loup de MerIn Greece, it’s called ‘lavraki’and is so prized that Greek journalists use ‘lavraki’ when they refer to high-value news stories.  It is a wonderful white fish and wildly popular in New York restaurants. Native to the East Atlantic, it gets a “Best Choice” award from www.seafoodwatch.org.  That designation comes because the vast majority of bronzini are farmed in Nova Scotia.  Amazingly,  this is done on land-based farms so there’s no contamination of the ocean’s eco-system.  There is something very satisfying about knowing your fish choice is given the thumbs up by SeafoodWatch.         

         There’s also great satisfaction in making this dish you dinner. For one thing, it makes a great meatless Monday meal.  And a guilt-free one at that because not only is the fish giving you a healthy bite of Omega 3 fatty acids, the arugula itself is one of the most nutritious of greens.  According to a recent article in the New York Times, nutrition is being bred out of our vegetables. (http://mwr.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/opinion/sunday/breeding-the-nutrition-out-of-our-food.html?from=sunday-review

Arugula, called Rocket in other parts of the English-speaking world, is a great healthy choice.  Arugula has only been domesticated since the 1970s, so food scientists haven’t yet messed with its goodness. It’s rich in the cancer-fighting compound glucosinolates and higher in anti-oxidants than many other greens.  Together with some chervil, flat-leaf parsley, lemon juice and an egg to bind the whole thing together, it’s a revelation.  The other thing that makes this dish attractive, is the great ‘gremolata’ of pink peppercorns, lemon zest and fresh thyme that brings color to the fish.  Here is the recipe:

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