Best Lasagna
Via Emilia
240 Park Avenue South, near 19th Street

New York lasagna comes in two basic styles: northern Italian (an orderly stack of ultra-thin spinach pasta sheets bolstered with béchamel and a modest ragů) and southern (an amorphous mound of gloriously gloppy noodles and ground meat, drowned in tomato sauce and smothered with cheese). Purists insist that lasagna alla bolognese, from Emilia Romagna up north, is the standard against which all others must be measured, and at Via Emilia, it's done to pasta perfection. Modenese chef William Mattiello takes some liberties, like using white noodles rather than green, larding the beef and pork ragů with pancetta, and replacing the béchamel with a cheese-enriched Mornay sauce, all to exceedingly rich effect ($12).

88 Second Avenue

Lil' Frankie's
19 First Avenue

For southern-style comfort (even though it's billed as lasagna alla bolognese), it's hard to top the tangy, crusty Thursday-night special at Frank ($14.95) and its pizzeria offshoot Lil' Frankie's, a sizzling casserole dish of creamy tomato sauce, savory morsels of meat, burnt bits of cheese, and the random, incidental green noodle ($10.95).