Rustic Italian Comforts at Ciano

The big wood-fired hearth at Ciano isn't just a comforting prop. It also turns out amazing bread, says owlwoman, "and you could make a whole meal out of it, especially with the ricotta spread that accompanies it." But don't do that. You'd miss out on excellent, rustic Italian cooking by Chef Shea Gallante, on the rebound from Cru (now the high-end Thai restaurant Lotus of Siam).

In a strong lineup of starters, roasted veal meatballs over polenta are a standout: "Rich, unctuous, perfect comfort food," comiendosiempre writes. Warm calamari salad (with shaved fennel, olives, and tomato-herb vinaigrette) is marvelously light and tasty, he adds. Among the entrées, the Lobster Pot (with corona beans, fingerlings, and porcini mushrooms) is a delicious highlight. And tender, perfectly cooked lemon-rosemary roasted chicken (with a ragu of chanterelles and farro) gets a thumbs-up from owlwoman; "I would go back just to have that, and I rarely order chicken out," she says.

Service is friendly and professional, even after just a few weeks in business, and prices are moderate; owlwoman's group of five spent $300 for dinner and found it well worth it. The setting is warm and welcoming, especially with the fireplace ablaze. With temperatures dipping below freezing, that sounds like a good place to be.

Ciano [Flatiron]
45 E. 22nd Street (between Park Avenue South and Broadway), Manhattan

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