Though nobody lives at I Coppi, it's practically a family home. Owner Lorella Innocenti and her sister, Head Chef Maristella Innocenti, tirelessly create seasonal Tuscan dishes from recipes passed down from their mother, Alberta. The Innocenti philosophy treats each dish as if it were prepared in the home rather than the restaurant, but if that doesn't keep them true to their roots, their mother's supervisory visits from Pistoia, Tuscany, certainly do. Among the Innocenti family's arsenal of Italian specialties is a Livornese-style fish stew—brimming with cod, clams, octopus, calamari, and shrimp in tomato sauce—and pork tenderloin in chianti sauce served with grilled pear and sautéed artichokes. Their brick-oven pizzas aspire to elegant simplicity, topped with prosciutto and mozzarella, or tomato sauce and fresh basil. Dedication to Tuscan food demands a nonpareil devotion to fine wines, which the Innocenti sisters store precisely at 58 degrees in their onsite wine cellar. Most reds are served in Spiegelau 22-ounce Vino Grande glasses, with whites served in a 15-ounce counterpart. Lorella's husband and the owner of Memphis Woodworking Corporation, John Brennan, designed and constructed the eatery, from the rustic woodwork that greets guests at the entrance to the verdant dining area rich with flowers and linguine plants.
When discussing the inspiration behind Prune with reporters from The New York Times, chef Gabrielle said "For something like 20 years I worked in kitchens, and they were mostly soulless factories of catering. By the time I opened my own restaurant, I wanted exactly the opposite." After all, Gabrielle was not raised to be satisfied with mediocre cooking— her French mother instilled her with an appreciation for honest, down-to-earth home cooking. She set up shop in a tiny, unassuming storefront, ready to wow her neighbors with the dishes of her childhood. Today, news of Gabrielle's restaurant has spread far beyond her local community, drawing throngs of admiring chefs and food writers. The well-lit dining room is constantly packed with diners squeezing into seats at tiny wood tables, where they are afforded views of Gabrielle at work in her bustling kitchen. The [James Beard] http://gr.pn/PI4mJb) award-wining culinary mastermind whips up simple yet striking dishes, such as the grilled pork chop with warm apple slaw or the ginger beer roasted pumpkin. Come brunch, her Dutch-style pancakes and triple-decker Monte Cristos pair with a selection of more than ten bloody marys, garnished with innovative ingredients like pickled eggs, chipotle peppers, and baby white turnips.
Il Riccio aims to evoke a seaside trattoria on the Amalfi Coast with its abundance of fresh seafood, and indeed, as soon as you step through the doors, it’s easy to forget you’re on the Upper East Side. The cozy spot is hung with eclectic decor the likes of which might accumulate in a beach cottage after years of happy summers: painted fish trail across sunny yellow walls below plates painted with folk-art depictions of octopuses and the sea urchins that give the restaurant its name. In addition to shrimp, red snapper, and scallops, there are pastas such as housemade ravioli in saffron sauce and a handful of simply prepared chicken and veal dishes, all ready to be paired with Italian wines. Dessert options go far beyond the standard gelato and tiramisu to encompass a wide array of fresh-baked pastries. A fruit tart’s “plump whole berries, crisp, flaky crust, and sweet sugar glaze brings perfect closure” to meals, according to New York magazine. Indulging in this bounty alongside plenty of neighborhood regulars, the Il Riccio staff members say they regularly spot such celebrities as Ralph Lauren, Michael Bloomberg, and Henry Kissinger, rumored to stop in to catch up and slurp a giant bowl of fettuccine together.
Up a graffiti-adorned staircase–-and away from the topless models swimming in hot tubs downstairs––Le Bain's rooftop bar offers another kind of eye candy. Stunning views of Manhattan and the Hudson await guests reclining on pink waterbeds or in white lawn chairs atop Astroturf. Still missing the ladies? Peer through planted binoculars to ogle a close-up of the Statue of Liberty.
Rakesh Aggarwal left India for America in 1980 and his culinary talents soon earned him permanent gigs at New York mainstays such as Club 21 and the Oak Room. It wasn’t until 1994, however, that he set the cornerstone for his very own New York mainstay, though he may not have known it at the time. Baluchi’s, which is reminiscent of Rakesh’s childhood nickname, Balu, became an instant hit both for its Zagat-rated Indian cuisine and its exotic decor. Today, Baluchi’s has expanded to five locations throughout the city and received a fair share of ink from New York magazine and the New York Times, whose writer noted that the potato cakes were “among the best” he had eaten. Baluchi’s in Murray Hill sticks to the traditional Indian fare that has brought this chain such widespread success. The menu alternates nicely between meat and vegetarian options, with options such as minced-lamb kebabs with mango salsa and sweet-potato chaats baked in a tandoor and tossed with spices. The tandoori menus teem with robust options such as racks of lamb and whole fish, as well as curries prepared with seafood, lamb, and vegetables that carry just enough spice and heat to melt the heart of a curmudgeonly businessman.
With dishes of thick, sage-seasoned veal chops and house-made pasta on its tables, it's no wonder that the dining room at Da Noi gets crowded. The Midtown spot is usually "packed with devotees of solid Northern Italian fare," according to New York Magazine, which also praised the "elegant" wood-paneled dining room.
Da Noi's chefs celebrate the subtleties of Northern Italian cuisine by tirelessly chopping fresh herbs, slicing scarlet-hued beef carpaccio, and saut?ing filets of fresh sole in white wine. Da Noi's handmade pasta dishes have turned many first-time diners into regulars, but other enthusiasts return again and again for pasta-free dishes such as grilled chicken livers dressed in a tangy balsamic dressing and served over fresh field greens.
The dessert menu rubs shoulders with the cocktail program at Da Noi, and the results are lavishly indulgent. Bartenders mix and muddle ingredients such as white chocolate and fresh blueberries with potent liqueurs, and decorate shaken martinis with whimsical garnishes. Glasses of silky house-made limoncello present a careful balance of sweet and tart flavors.