2006 100 VERY BEST RESTAURANTS
THE SCENE. Two years ago, Frank Ruta turned the front room of his on-the-rise Modern American destination into a relaxed, albeit elegantly appointed, no-reservations cafe. Now, the overstuffed barstools and cozy banquettes see as much action as the formal dining room in back.
WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. That you can drop in on any evening and find a beautifully balanced salad, robust ragu, or excellent roast for the price of a pizza. Or you can order à la carte from the dining-room menu.
WHAT YOU WON'T. The no-reservations policy can mean long waits at peak times. The tab quickly jumps when you factor in house cocktails ($8 to $10) and wine.
BEST DISHES. Fried lemons, onion rings, and potatoes dauphinoise; house-made hot dog with German potato salad; juicy roasted chicken, worth the 45-minute wait; cheeseburger; raviolini stuffed with duck; corned brisket; Ruta's house-cured meats such as bresaola and capicola.