Executive chef-partner Giovanni DeNigris (Trattoria Trullo) showcases the rustic cucina and robust wines of Puglia in his exposed-brick dining room, a former meatpacking warehouse, and pizzas are a good bet under the hands of chef Gino Losacco, who mans the central wood-burning brick oven. Pizza Barese featured melted mozzarella and burrata blanketed by silken prosciutto crudo on a beautifully blistered thin crust; I also enjoyed a special of white pizza with asparagus and little dots of Puglian sausage (more, please!). Wood-roasted meats and daily hot antipasti, such as butterflied shrimp smothered with buttery bread crumbs, come from a smaller oven. The hefty pork chop, though cooked past the requested medium rare and a tad dry, was flavorful and cannily paired with porcini linguine. Fish are roasted whole only, but dont expect a lot of food: once deboned by the friendly server, our strawberry grouper turned out to be a mere half-dozen bites for $26. One pasta, cappellacci stuffed with firm pumpkin-squash puree, basked in a truffle-flecked Parmesan cream sauce, making it even richer than the best dessert, croccantino with walnuts and caramel. Weekends bustle with trendy crowds, but I prefer quieter nights early in the week.
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