777 Seventh Ave., at 51st St.; 212-582-1310
Anyone who has tried to bake a serious lasagne at home knows the truth about this intricate family dish. It’s laborious, time- consuming, and fraught with all sorts of potential disaster. So whenever we feel like a taste of the real thing without any of the attendant hassle, we slip into one of the sleek booths at Marco Canora’s midtown restaurant, Insieme, and call for a platter or two of the exquisite “lasagne verde.” Canora makes his sheets of pasta with fresh spinach, and mingles his beef Bolognese with milk, butter, and plenty of pancetta. Instead of three or four layers, he constructs seven, each one wafer-thin, and oozing with a rich béchamel seasoned with nutmeg. The result is a rich, meaty, densely articulated confection, layered with the kind of flavor that our dear Grandma Nona, with her well-worn apron and collection of wooden stirring spoons, could only dream about.
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).