|Brunelli Sorriso Trattoria|
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“Times is hard, times is hard,” sings Mrs. Lovett, the English pie-shop owner in Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.” And she’d get no argument from the owners of many New York restaurants. While more and more of them are giving up the ship, Russ Brunelli and Ignazio Leone aren’t the type to say die. So when business started to wane recently at Brunelli, their long-popular institution on York Avenue, they got busy. They shut the doors for two weeks, revamped both the décor and menu to literally and figuratively lighten things up (including the prices), and reopened as Brunelli Sorriso Trattoria. And this newly informal eatery is quickly bringing plenty of “sorrisos” (smiles) to the neighborhood.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
Just in time for the warmer weather, Leone’s revamped menu offers plenty of less filling fare that nonetheless satisfies the taste buds. For example, you can indulge in 14 varieties of bruschetta (which can be ordered individually for $2, or $5 per trio) – small pieces of Italian bread topped with such enticing combinations as sage-roasted tomato, truffle oil and parmigiano, roasted garlic and arugula, or chicken liver and onion. An equally appealing starter is the cold antipasto – large enough for two or three – which includes a mound of silky chicken liver mousse, slices of salami and cheese, tangy caponata, peppers, olives and more.
Entrees here are accompanied only by the vegetable of the day, so a savvy pair of diners should split one entrée and one pasta dish to get the best of both worlds. And what could be more spring-like than al dente spaghetti sautéed in an enchanting lemon-butter sauce? Keeping with the lemon theme – I confess it’s one of my favorite flavors – I chose veal francese, which was nicely battered and quite tender. Meanwhile, my dining companion went for the slightly heartier pollo bella amy marino, chicken breast stuffed with peppers, spinach and mozzarella in a white wine sauce.
So far, Leone hasn’t revamped the dessert menu – probably since the regulars would revolt if his famous tiramisu disappeared. But if he makes his special chocolate mousse – go for it. I totally believed our waiter when he said the staff was fighting over getting a spoonful.
Neighborhood: East 70s
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