Despite its whimsical name, this Theatre District restaurant serves some seriously authentic Italian cuisine. A long bar and large dining room leads to a walled-in back garden where umbrella-shielded tables are surrounded by planters with greens and flowers as well as fountains and lanterns.
The best-selling antipasti is a unique and tasty dish of calamari and artichokes dusted with flour and gently pan fried in a little oil until they form a pancake that is placed atop a fresh radicchio-and-tomato salad. The favorite pasta is Casoncelli, typical of chef and co-owner Stefano Terzi’s hometown of Bergamo in Lombardy. Two sheets of pasta are pressed together at the edges over a filling of ground veal, raisin, and crumbled amaretto cookies. Once cooked the little pasta pockets are lined up on a long plate and dressed with a butter sauce and bits of pancetta, sprinkled with Granna Padano and garnished with fried sage leaves for a bit of crunch. A favorite summer entrée is halibut in a tomato crust on a bed of zucchini purée served with thinly sliced tomato and risotto.
The terrific focaccia is made in house, sometimes with rosemary, sometimes with onion or other seasonings. In addition to an elegant dessert list, Pastry Chef Warren McKissick bakes a wonderful selection of dark and light cookies, which are also for sale by the box. Lunch Monday to Friday noon to 2:30pm; dinner Monday to Saturday 5pm to 11pm, Sunday to 10pm; Sunday brunch 11:30 to 3pm. -- Marian Betancourt