Italian Back on New Yorker's Minds

NEW YORK CITY --- It seems as though 100 new restaurants open each week in Manhattan, and for the past few years, few of them have been Italian. It was as if New Yorkers had done Italian and were moving on to explore other cuisines, along with their own. But on a recent visit, Italy seemed to be back on everyone’s minds.

The newest Italian to open is Beppe, a smooth and colorful trattoria-style restaurant in the city’s Flatiron district. With warming ochre-toned walls and a roaring fireplace, it is easy to be at home in this new creation of chef Cesare Casella, from the city’s popular restaurant Coco Pazzo.

The best sign of any restaurant is when you sit down to peruse the menu and decide in a flash not only what you’d like on this visit, but also make mental notes of what to sample on the next. I felt this way at Beppe, settling into a lovely mix of marinated mushrooms set on a bed of golden polenta crostino, and teamed up with a peppery arugula salad. Less inspired was the thyme-marinated squid, which lacked essential seasoning, was dry, and simply repetitive.

I loved the idea of his 11-herb pastas with 11-herb pesto, topped off with a colorful mound of chopped, fresh tomatoes. Unfortunately, that old devil herb, sage, was a bit too dominant and overwhelmed the character of its ten other partners.

But the star of the evening without doubt was the spare ribs, Tuscan cowboy style, slow cooked with tomatoes and garlic. The ribs were nice and meaty and made you sit up and take notice.

The wine list is fine, with an old time favorite white, a Vernaccia di San Gimignano as aperitif, and the bold and virile Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Vino Nobile from the house of Carpineto.

45 East 22nd Street
New York, N.Y. 10010
Tel: 212 982 8422
All major credit cards. Open daily. About $50 per person, not including service or wine.