Mon-Fri, noon-3pm and 5pm-10:30pm; Sat-Sun, 5pm-10:30pm
6 at 51st St.; E, V at Lexington Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
44th St. to 60th St., FDR Dr. to Madison Ave.
Leonardo da Vinci and his Mona Lisa, the restaurant's namesake, figure prominently at this diminutive, mellow neighborhood spot. Their portraits, along with a few antiquarian maps, adorn the exposed-brick and white walls; da Vinci's Study of Man graces the menu; and above the entry's easy-to-miss stairway flies a red flag with the fleur de lis, the symbol of Florence where the artist did much of his work. Many of the classic dishes here hail from Tuscany, too, though as da Vinci did, the kitchen steers north or south on occasion. There are the expected pastas—pappardelle, gnocchi, fettuccine alla bolognese, raviolini di ricotta e spinaci—and a few noteworthy surprises like the paccheri alla norma, wide ribbon noodles with eggplant and dry aged Ricotta in a tomato sauce. A smattering of simple seafood and meat secondi, plus robust salads packed with cheeses, nuts, and fruits, guarantee satisfying low-carb alternatives. With only one waiter for the cozy space, you'll have plenty of time to contemplate the menu as well as Mona Lisa's enigmatic gaze, peering at you from between two windows with flower boxes opened onto the quiet side street below.Recommended Dishes
Insalata mista con gorgonzola, pere e noci, $8.50; paccheri alla norma, $13.50; salmone piccata, $18.50