Former Le Cirque pastry chef Iacopo Falai shows that sweet is far from the only flavor in his palette. The food here reflects Falai's roots in Florence and is all prepared "fatto in casa," or on the premises. Even the bread, which is some of the best we have had in this city, stands out; six different types, warm, utterly fresh and with complex flavors, were served at our last meal.
Start perhaps with a bufala ricotta tortino, a phenomenal tart crust with a beautiful disk of warm ricotta on top, served with warm wild mushrooms and mushroom reduction. Or perhaps polipetti, a tangy baby octopus. The other seafood appetizers are equally delightful, as are the main fish courses such as branzino or langoustines.
Homemade pasta is utterly exquisite, whether pappardelle served with wild boar or a cocoa-infused pappardelle with venison ragout. Gnudi, that wonderful Italian favorite, is superb here, with brown butter and sage. The gnocchi with pesto is divine, perhaps the most concentrated pesto we've ever tasted. Meat dishes are equally spectacular, whether a terrific Long Island duck, a rack of lamb, or pork filet with fennel. Speaking of fennel, Falai has cleverly inserted fennel into one of those wonderful breads.
With a terrific list of Italian wines to augment the cuisine, your meal would not be complete without a selection of Falai's clever desserts. Opt perhaps for the classic millefoglie or profitterol, but absolutely have the passion fruit soufflé when available. Simply put, Falai is already one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, and is not to be missed. Also see our reviews for neighboring Falai Panetteria
and its SoHo cousin Caffe Falai
, both charming establishments with top-notch confections and pastries. Final note: in warmer months, the garden is a most charming place to hold court.