Mon-Thu, noon-3pm and 5pm-11pm; Fri, noon-3pm and 5pm-11:30pm; Sat, 5pm-11:30pm; Sun, closed
6 at 77th St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
66th St. to 86th St., York Ave. to Fifth Ave.
Who says you have to sit among gilded frames and rococo statuary to enjoy old-school Italian food? The distinguished blazer-and-pearls crowd who frequent this elegant townhouse wouldn't dream of dining on rigatoni with meatballs and sausage anywhere else. While the mahagony-paneled walls, beamed ceilings and fireplaces date to the early 20th century, the restaurant (and many in the crowd) goes back only three decades. But the trappings are only part of the charm; the welcoming Vivolo family, who live in the rest of the townhouse, make everyone feel at home and the seasonally changing Northern Italian menu, which veers toward pastas and meats, strikes a tasty balance between old, familiar favorites and classics with experimental flourishes. Alongside a tender calf’s liver in white wine, for example, is an espresso-rubbed Cornish hen with a rich, smoky edge; elsewhere, prosciutto combines with mango for a sweeter twist on the classic cantaloupe combo. The customers clamoring for their regular tables know that the classic cannoli is always on offer for dessert. It's a sweet comfort that some things need never change.Extra
Cucina Vivolo directly next door serves more casual fare and quick bites, to stay or go. There’s also an early bird prix-fixe three-course menu from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.Recommended Dishes
Cornish hen, $23; prime sirloin served garlic herb mashed potatoes, $30