La Cantina Toscana, which has been around for some time without attracting much attention from hounds, cooks true Tuscan chow, reports Peter Cherches. “I’ve been surprised it is so under the radar,” he adds. Yet other low-flying hounds have sussed out its typically Tuscan game menu, which features hearty pasta with cinghiale (wild boar) ragu. Boar also turns up in a sausage appetizer with cannellini and long-marinated in a sturdy stew served with chard and polenta. Other first-rate pastas include gnudi with spinach and ricotta in sage butter.
“I liked its good Italian feel–meaning fresh simple ingredients, a menu set up as Italian, not American, and actual Italians cooking and running the place,” writes eduardo. Adds Captain, “It is not a restaurant at which one gets the feeling the owners are seeking to make a killing. Rather, it feels like this is what they want to do, and are trying to make a living at it. Also, it is quite common to hear more of the diners speaking Italian than English.”
A mile or so uptown, there’s promising early word of satisfying, minimalist Italian dishes at Antonucci, a six-month-old trattoria from the former owner of Midtown Venetian restaurant Remi. jordana reports fresh, flavorful gnocchi with peas and pasta with mushrooms, as well as superior focaccia, not overpowered by herbs. The short menu also includes salt-baked branzino, braised lamb shank, beef short ribs, seafood risotto, and small plates including octopus with beans and bottarga, and roasted vegetables with bagna cauda.
La Cantina Toscana [Upper East Side]
1109 1st Ave., between E. 60th and 61st Sts., Manhattan
Antonucci [Upper East Side]
formerly Pearson’s Texas Barbecue
170 E. 81st St., near 3rd Ave., Manhattan