Ignore the odd, dungeon-like decor, with its bizarre plaster map of Italy (it spreads across the ceiling of the room like a white, bumpy stain). Oh, and try to forgive the fact that you’ll be bumping elbows with your neighbor as you shovel pasta into your mouth. The food here is so lovingly well made, all sins are forgiven by the end of the meal. That goes for the perfectly spiced cured meats (of which there are many; get a sampler plate); the pepolino pasta with a carrot- and celery-based tomato sauce (it’s simmered for 7 hours to concentrate the flavors); the short ribs (that also get the long cooking treatment, having been braised for 4 hours until they fall apart at the touch of your fork); the wine; the bread; you name it. In a neighborhood that’s short on good restaurants, this one is a standout.
- Pauline Frommer