MY TASTEFUL OPINION: From what I’ve read, it sounds like I’d like it.
The bad news – Allegretti closed down around the end of 2010.
The good news – Chef Alain Allegretti took his famous Provençale Fish Soup over to his new restaurant, La Petite Maison, which opened in December 2010 in the old Aquavit space (13-15 West 54th Street). Officially, they call it “Traditional Provencal fish soup with rouille and garlic crouton” ($14; was $13 at Allegretti Restaurant and $12 when NY mag published their feature).
The bad news – I hadn’t done enough research when I was back in NYC a month ago, so I didn’t realize Chef was already at a new restaurant AND was making the same soup there…so, this means I didn’t try it and won’t be able to tell you what I think about it right now.
The good news – Google is awesome, and lots of people have written about it. So, here’s some info…
“Always Hungry New York” interviewed Chef Allegretti about his fish soup on June 28, 2010. If you want to see how to make it, definitely visit the website. Here’s what I learned: Chef grew up in the South of France, and his grandmother would make fish soup every weekend for the family. Since her version was extremely fishy, he decided to adapt it to a less fishy, more “American” version for his restaurant. The hefty price comes from the fact that making it is a long and detailed process, and the ingredients that go into it, such as saffron, are very expensive. One batch costs about $600, which is insane! I wonder if I would be able to taste the $$$ and love that goes into this.
Chef Alain Allegretti's Provencale Fish Soup (photo from "Evenings with Peter" blog)
What New York magazine said in their “50 Tastiest Soups” feature in 2009:
“In much the way that Marseille is not known for its pastrami, New York is not a bouillabaisse town. No matter. Not when we have Alain Allegretti’s transporting fish soup at our disposal. Redolent of saffron and garlic and the heady perfume of expertly boiled fish carcasses, it comes in a tiny white bowl but contains an ocean’s worth of flavor.”
What another blogger from “Evenings with Peter” said:
“I don’t like soup for dinner ordinarily and I didn’t like the bouillabaisse too much in Marseilles, but this fish dish demands a standing ovation! Extraordinary!”
What New York Times‘ Frank Bruni’s friend said in 2008:
“’It tastes exactly the way it should,’ she said, rushing the words out as soon as the soup was down. She wanted the rest of us to know. She wanted to crow. She wanted to be done with talking and get back to the soup. She was even making those mm-mm noises, or something oddly close to them, as in the goofy Campbell’s commercials from years ago.
What she meant…was that that it tasted of Mediterranean waters — scorpion fish, rouget — and of Mediterranean sunshine, the tomato flavor robust and true. She meant that it had some proper mischief in it: a blast of fennel, a flicker of Pernod, a murmur of saffron.” Read full NYT article
What Time Out New York said in 2008:
“Slurping it down, I was left craving one thing: more of their croutons, Gruyère and garlicky rouille—the usual accompaniments—for soaking it up.” Read full TONY article
What New York Times said recently on March 22, 2011 about the soup, which is now featured at La Petite Maison:
“It arrives on tables with all the flavors and fragrances of that region present and singing in tune: fantastic.” Read full NYT article about La Petite Maison
Soooo, the good news – I’ll be able to try the soup the next time I’m in NYC.
The bad news – I probably won’t be there for a while. Hopefully the resto is still in business by the time I get there, and hopefully Chef has the fish soup on the menu that day. If not, I’m going to think something fishy is going on…
Allegretti – CLOSED
La Petite Maison – NOW OPEN
13-15 W. 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.
$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.
Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!