Sun-Wed, 5pm-10pm; Thu-Sat, 5pm-11pm
1, 2, 3 at 72nd St.; B, C at 72nd St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
It may not have the flash of Scarpetta or the hominess of Lupa, but what Cesca does have is stylish accessibility. Though it’s gone through a chef change since its opening in 2003 (when Adam Platt awarded it two stars), the understated, mid-size dining room still packs a jovial buzz nearly every night of the week. Current chef Kevin Garcia (formerly of Del Posto), steers clear of showiness and trends - there’s nary a pork belly or offal variety in sight - and instead gives the people what they want: a highly satisfying and diverse, southern Italian menu executed with polish. Make a light dinner out of the addictive escarole salad dotted with mint, snappy yellow tail crudo, and a tasting of silky, housemade pastas like the hearty garganelli with salty chicken sausage or the piquant linguini alla vongole. Entrées are flavorful with seasonal accents roasted in a wood-burning oven: scallops come deliciously carmelized atop a bed of cauliflower and stewed white grapes; grilled meats - like the standout Heritage pork chop - are rustic and well-seasoned. The whole operation gets a worthy assist from an Old World-heavy wine list and a roster of standard desserts.