6 at 51st St.; E, M at Lexington Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
This venue is closed.
If you, like everyone else, can't get into Rao's, you might consider dropping by Destino.Nestled on a leafy, food-destitute block near the United Nations, the restaurant has a chef (Mario Curko) poached from Rao's itself. The menu even runs to the red sauce-joint favorites—spaghetti carbonara, chicken parmigiana, and veal Marsala—much like that Italian-American institution. But though the tennis ball-sized meatballs are surprisingly light and airy and the veal is tender, the pasta dishes are puny and skimp on the cheese, both in quality and quantity. Aside from a lavish ceiling mural, the room feels like Little Italy without the kitsch factor. In good weather, when the French doors in the front are opened, regulars pack the front bar to listen to the piano man, but unless you're desperate for Eye-talian you're better off perfecting your wiseguy impression and holding out for the real thing.Recommended Dishes
Mario's meatballs, $14