Clamorous but warm, with a rosy glowing bar and an eclectic yet reasonably priced American menu, Almond is a haven for these nervous times. Feeling wrung out and suddenly poor? Share a big toss of lemony escarole with mint, Pecorino, and pistachios ($11), or a seafood tasting of raw scallops, marinated octopus, and curried mussels on ice ($15, and actually enough for three). Starters like duck confit with tangy lentils or red-wine-braised short ribs, each just $12, would be dinner enough for me. Mac-’n’-cheese fans will freak out over macaroni “Le Grand” ($18) with prosciutto, chopped truffles, and a voluptuous swamp of cheese. And for the main course? An excellent burger or croque madame, perhaps (each $15). Crusty twice-cooked veal breast with capers and cauliflower reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking. I’m less pleased with whatever went into the marinade of the hanger steak, though I can’t get enough of the fries piled on top. Shrimp sausage, rapini, and bottarga overwhelm the housemade cavatelli (a dish I love at sister restaurant Almoncello in East Hampton), but my companion the Road Food Warrior says he likes it. After last month’s shakedown, the kitchen is stronger—though the staff seems taxed by tonight’s full house. Co-owner Eric Lemonides darts about the room, dispensing his signature boyish charm, which helps. In any case, it looks like Rocco DiSpirito’s ghost has been fully exorcised from a space where his reality show revealed too much.
12 E. 22nd St., nr. Broadway 212-228-7557