Straw to Gold

Ciano takes rustic to new heights

Our town, already renowned for its pizza and bagels, is now also awash in pasta, and this season, it seems as though every new restaurant is carbo-loading.

Chef Shea Gallante, formerly of Cru, has made his entry into this semolina war at his new Flatiron restaurant, Ciano, with dishes like a bright cortecce pasta studded with braised octopus and pancetta ($20). But it's the non-pasta parts of the menu that has us most captivated.

Like a culinary version of Pygmalion, Gallante manages to turn the most homely and hearty of dishes into things of elegance. Lamb ($33), sourced from Pat LaFrieda and served over braised Swiss chard and fennel, boasts a tenderness and integrity of flavor that suggests the use of sous-vide. But the chops are roasted perfectly the old-fashioned way–a testament to Gallante's comfort in this genre.

Against our better (and meatball-fatigued) judgment, we ordered the single sphere of veal ($18)–and thank goodness for taking the chance in spite of our cynicism. With just the touch of a fork, the veal melts and is caught by a bed of the richest herb-and-truffle-flecked polenta this side of the Atlantic.

Although the service is still catching up to the food, wine director Jon Slover has assembled a serious list of bottles, some of which are available through a half-bottle program similar to the one he created at Bar Henry.

Ciano, 45 E. 22nd St.; 212-982-8422 or cianonyc.com