100 Best Restaurants 2008: Ristorante Tosca

No. 20: Ristorante Tosca

Cuisine: Rich, luxurious northern Italian—house-made pastas, intensely flavored game—with lofty aspirations and prices. You’ll wish you had a fatter wallet along with a bigger belt.

Mood: Clubby, with affable Italian-accented waiters in cream-colored jackets assuring diners they’ve chosen the best dish. With many of the city’s top law firms nearby, someone’s surely treating a client to dinner and billing him for the pleasure.

Best for: Power lunches and dinners, dinner before a show at the Warner or National, a special dinner out.

Best dishes: Silken carrot pappardelle in a rabbit ragu; kabocha-squash tortelli floating in a truffled Parmesan sauce; roasted veal tenderloin with porcini mushrooms and farro; rack of venison with beet tartare and currant sauce; a fascinating Gorgonzola ice cream served three ways, including with a delicious slaw of celery, fennel, and pear.

Insider tips: Chef Massimo Fabbri’s menu offers so much variety that it can spark arguments among couples intending to share. Don’t ignore the tasting menus—each item can be ordered à la carte. Pastas can be ordered by the half portion, which is advisable for a second course—or if you want to try more than one. Early diners can take advantage of the $35 three-course pretheater menu. Groups of four to eight can make an evening of dinner by reserving the chef’s table in the kitchen, where Fabbri cooks a seven-to-nine-course meal for $105 a person—a relative bargain.

Service: ••½

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