250 E. 83rd St.
Upper East Side
Devotees of this Upper East Side ristorante keep its eminence a close-guarded secret—and it's not hard to see why. With hardly a dozen intimate tables nestled into a dark-wood, lantern-adorned cove, generous portions of homemade pastas, mesquite-grilled meats, plentiful fish, and a very fine veal chop, Erminia is the sort of place you want to share only with your closest friends. An understated, old-country formality rules the day here. Owned and run since 1985 by the Lattanzi family, the cuisine bears the influence of the clan's native Rome: Artichokes play starring roles; the fresh fish soup is served in marinara sauce. Hearty fare like Pollo e Salsiccia, tossed with porcini mushrooms and sharp balsamic vinegar, has fragrant hints of fennel and rosemary. Rolled pasta is rich and eggy, packed with ricotta, mozzarella, and spinach, and perched on a bed of fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. A creamy homemade mozzarella is served warm, and fairly exhibits its roasted red pepper slices and pesto dressing like royal vestments upon the plate. Saving room for dessert proves rewarding: Erminia possesses that holiest of trattoria grails: a lighter-than-air, judiciously liquored tiramisu.