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Best Under-the-Radar Restaurant

ICI
246 Dekalb Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn
718-789-2778

After a short spell of notoriety he'd sooner forget-as the smirking general manager on NBC's The Restaurant-Laurent Saillard is perfectly content to stay out of the spotlight. That's probably why he and his wife, Catherine, chose to open Ici, a sweet seasonal American restaurant, in their own Fort Greene neighborhood, where locals are the lucky beneficiaries of lusty pennoni pasta with lamb shoulder, crispy chicken-liver schnitzel, and buttery skate pelted with toasted hazelnuts. But perhaps its remove is what keeps the place civilized-that, and the Saillards' watchful stewardship. Laurent and his chef, Julie Farias, let the ingredients shine: Salad greens come from a Red Hook greenhouse. Moist, snowy-white roast chicken began its life on a small upstate farm. Wines all belong to that cryptic category called "natural," meaning organic, biodynamic, unfiltered, or any combination thereof. Ici is not the first restaurant to use Greenmarket sheep's-milk yogurt in its panna cotta, or serve intriguing, unfamiliar wines at proper cellar temperature, or gratify its guests with a fireplace in winter and a peaceful garden in summer. But the combination of all its fine points makes it an unassuming star, reluctant or otherwise.

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