165 Duane St.
Sometimes, the most surprising, sustainable talent emerges from the quiet guy—the diligent worker who suddenly shines. Scalini Fedeli is one such sleeper, with an unpretentious charm that begins with its gracefully upscale décor. Butter-colored walls and comfortable navy upholstery balance the grandeur of the vaulted ceilings; wood-framed stained-glass windows provide old-world embellishment; and copper pots filled with apples and oranges supply a fruity-fresh aroma. The French–influenced Italian menu is equally refined and down-to-earth. Roughly thirteen dishes grace the table during the prix-fixe dinner; expect expert saucing, skillfully homemade pasta, and Gallic frills like foie gras alongside Tuscan treasures like porcini mushrooms. Chef Michael Cetrulo’s flavor pairings are thoughtful: Mellow braised-pork-and-ricotta ravioli take on sweetness from the tiny carrot dices in tomato broth, and a soothing side of barley sops up the juices from a thick rosemary-scented pork chop. Super-plump strawberries in sabayon start the dessert parade, so choosing the light passion-fruit panna-cotta napoleon is a good idea. After such a feast, it’s clear why the place doesn’t jockey for accolades like other establishments—satisfied customers sing its praises enough.