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On what he thinks about NYC’s Italian restaurants:
We’re in a golden age of Italian restaurants In NYC. There’s a danger: Italian cooking has become so popular, and so much of it doesn’t require the sort of culinary erudition and technique savvy that French cooking does. I worry about the explosion of fly-by-night places with too-simple pastas and crostini, just because a basically unskilled cook has access to some fresh ingredients. That said, we have such a depth of astonishing places. Newcomers like Locanda Verde and Marea are absolutely great. Then there are old-timers like Esca and Babbo. Scarpetta should never be forgotten.
On where the old-school Bruni family would be eating in 2010:
I could see the Bruni family at Locanda Verde. Although my grandmother would have freaked out if she saw something as non-traditional as the blue-crab and jalapeño crostini (a dish that obsesses me). My grandmother, who came from Italy, was hard to take out to eat, hardest to take out to eat in an Italian restaurant. My dad is such a pasta junkie. I’ve been hauling him to Italian restaurants: He loved his meal at Convivio. He really liked Scarpetta, too.
On other dishes he’s obsessed with now:
I remain obsessed by the lamb burger at the Breslin. I constantly tell people who are going to Marea to get the fusilli with octopus and bone marrow. And the lobster with burrata doesn’t get talked about enough: It conjures a lobster salad of the highest order. And I continue to order the Red Wattle chop at Vinegar Hill House. I’m also having a weird chicken diavolo moment in my life—both at Lupa and at Dell’Anima. They’re different iterations, but they’re both fantastic.