Sun-Thu, noon-11pm; Fri-Sat, noon-midnight
1 at 79th St.; B, C at 81st St.-Museum of Natural History
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
64th St. to 96th St., Central Park West to Riverside Dr.
In keeping with the playground down the block, this family-friendly Upper West Sider has a jolly atmosphere and colorful set up. Vintage ads for Campari and other Italian beverages hang above tables covered with cheery red and white checked cloths. French doors opened wide allow patrons to pour onto the street, where seats are enclosed by a mini white latticed fence. A collection of model sailboats nods to the restaurant's name "the sail," and on the back wall's mural a lucky couple dances in the stylized twilight of an Amalfi-esque seaside town. Not surprisingly, seafood figures prominently on the menu, from grilled filets to staples like calamari and frutti di mare con linguini. Cappensante, marinated scallops wrapped in crunchy, cured pancetta, is a delectable and particularly inventive starter. Pastas are divided between the fresche, made in house, and the secche. Of the preferable former offerings, the borsette deserves your attention for its hearty wild mushroom ravioli in an immensely satisfying creamy sauce flavored with brandy and walnut shavings. La Vela's cheap eats come sophisticated and flexible enough to please adults and kids alike—there’s no alternate menu, but the kitchen works willingly to satisfy special, simple requests.Recommended Dishes
Cappensante, $9.50; borsette, $13.50