January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

No. 85: Ristorante Tosca

This streamlined taupe-and-silver space is a longtime roost for the billable-hours crowd, many of whom take the elevator down from the Arnold & Porter law offices.

What they know is that there aren’t many better plates of pasta in this town than the ones you’ll find here. Thin, freshly cut spaghetti swirled with clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp is a sharable midcourse or a lovely meal in itself. So, too, chef Cesare Lanfranconi’s signature dish of ravioli stuffed with aged ricotta and raisins. Appetizers tend to be oddly portioned—try eating anything after the two huge slabs of buttery, weakly flavored foie gras terrine—or too busy, as in the case of a grilled-octopus salad.

And prices can seem high. Lofty tabs for dishes with Alba truffles or foie gras are to be expected—but $20 for ten utterly ordinary squash ravioli? Still, prix-fixe menus at pretheater and lunch times are bargains, and you can avoid the extravagance of the dining room by having a plate of pasta or a few appetizers at the bar.

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