restaurants
Tiella
1109 First Avenue
212 588 0100

Neapolitan chef Peppe Castellano and co-owner Mario Coppola bring a very literal, very delicious version of Italy to the 61st St corner of the Upper East side. The signature dish of the restaurant, the tiellas are soft, thin doughy mini "pizzas" so staggeringly good that you're almost blinded to everything else on the menu -- we gobbled up the San Daniele prosciutto and foie gras one, followed by the goat cheese topped with shaved truffles. But you have to save room for everything that follows. A spaghetti chitarra (or guitar strings) with two sauces made separately, zucchini cream and a clam sauce, then blended is one of the signature dishes. An exceptional lobster and grapefruit risotto is more rice-y than other risotto dishes with grapefruit chunks and zesty peel as well as a succulent claw. Salads are done the true Italian way, a course of a very simple green (expertly prepared but uncomplicated, not the American way, as meals.) But in fact, it's impossible to try everything in one go -- do you still have room for the sformatino, a spinach flan in a gorgonzola sauce, or the salmone carpaccio or say the branzino? So save room for the spectacular desserts. Changing all the time, we got to savour the delizia al limone, a sumptuous lemon cake, and the tiramisu, made extra special with some Sambuca. And make a plan to go back. A bit of Napoli, a bit of Milan in this peacefully temperate brick room, in the first week, we found out some of the locals had already made several repeat trips!

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