Native New Yorker Chef Chris Cipollone, who cut his teeth at some of the city's finest kitchens, makes a splash with Francie, which has taken up residence in a striking, limestone-clad building. Named for the main character in a Betty Smith novel, this quiet haven—featuring sleek ash wood floors with a center tile mosaic, exposed red brick walls, and widely spaced tables—is very elegant and rather unforgettable.
The open kitchen is a true-to-life stage for this team, who can be seen prepping, cooking, and putting the finishing touches on a series of gratifying plates. To start, a soufflé cake topped with caviar-crested seaweed butter that's replete with umami flavor; or butternut squash bomboloni oozing with cheese and packed with pancetta. An earnest, delicate, and expert hand is clearly at work behind the pasta (rigatoni dressed with sweet and meaty Calabrian pumpkin and savory Italian sausage); while a flaky and golden pithivier filled with minced vegetables, lentils, and greens gets a masterful stroke of lush hazelnut curry.
This regal repast may come full circle at dessert with a candied pecan-topped cream puff full of soft maple and strong Bourbon.