Restaurant of the Week: Civetta

Tracey Ceurvels

Is Little Italy gunning for a revival? With Civetta, a newcomer on the fringes, let's hope so. The latest endeavor of Lou Ceruzzi (Via Quandronno and Sfoglia) puts the tourist traps on nearby Mulberry Street to shame. Food lovers who don't need to be serenaded by an Italian trio of musicians would be much better off if they shunned that street and walked into this bustling, rustic restaurant where chef Ron Suhanosky makes Italian food with Mediterranean influences. For pasta dishes (which come in half or full size), try the tangy rigatoni bolognese ($16/28), a refreshing gnocchi pesto ($16/28) and -- for those with a penchant for it -- spaghetti with sea urchin and black sesame seeds ($17/29), the chef’s personal favorite. Although these are perfectly enjoyable, it’s the long list of shareable antipasti that stand out: lamb and goat cheese meatballs with mint ($16), chicken liver crostini with plum jam ($9) and the excellent salad, endorsed by our waitress, comprised of finely shaved octopus and fennel with guanciale ($17). We stuck mostly with the small dishes and enjoyed sharing (everything is family-style) an entrée: large sautéed prawns with garlic and brown butter ($35). A definite must-have: the signature bread baked with a recipe from Ron's wife Colleen, served with butter or olive oil. Be sure to order a cocktail: the Amaro Fizz ($11) is an uplifting prelude to dinner. Suitably, there is a decent list of Italian wine, also available in the downstairs bar and party space. The high noise level in the dining room of too-close-for-comfort tables is a detriment, but who cares when the food is this good?

98 Kenmare St.
(212) 966-9440

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