Wednesday, June 21, 2006

An Italian Wonder in Murray Hill

It’s All About Friends and Family at DaCiro

I keep looking for a run of the mill, mediocre Italian joint in Manhattan… and keep falling short.

Not that finding one will be a bad thing… I mean how many terrific Italian places can there be?

Obviously, a whole bunch.

My gastronomic journey through New York lead me to the Murray Hill area of Manhattan a short while ago, to a spot that has graced Lexington Avenue for 10 years. A wonderful ristorante named DaCiro.

Entering the cozy first floor, you immediately get the fact that most everyone in the place had been there before. It’s that kinda spot. As the two women in front of me strolled through the door, they were both kissed and sat at their favorite spot. I like this place.

We had a reservation for 4, and were promptly taken upstairs to a fair sized dining room overlooking Lexington Ave. Wine bottles lined the small stairwell up to relay the feeling of an authentic ristorante. It was enough to evoke a grin. I really like this place.

The meals at DaCiro mainly revolve around a terrific wood-burning oven. The pizzas are true to regional italy…. thin, earthy and remarkable. The homemade crusts were baked to perfection, topped with a thin layer of fresh tomato puree and slices of mozzarella cheese. With countless options including a robiola cheese sprinkled with truffle oil, you could order a bottle of wine and call it a night… but what would you miss out on?

Maybe the breaded clams or roasted octopus?.... or the casserole of eggplant stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella and goat cheese over their amazing tomato sauce?.... or the homemade fettuccine with duck ragu?.... or the orecchiette with sausage? I may never leave this place.

I did have the pasta at DaCiro, and was blown away by the simplistic greatness of their dishes. Having traveled throughout Italy, I am convinced that the greatness of their food isn’t what you taste… but what you don’t taste. I think most Americans that cook Italian food kill it by over seasoning most of the basic recipes. DaCiro recognizes this, and keeps it simple. No smoke and mirrors here, just down to earth good cooking.

We didn’t make it to a secondi piatti on that evening, but the table next to us was feasting on what looked to be a superb ribeye, a roasted chicken dish oozing with spinach and a grilled red snapper that almost prompted me to lean over and kindly ask for a bite. Hey, it's a southern thing.

Yes, there are 1000 of these spots in NYC, and yes, most all of them are spectacular in their own special way…. But if you are looking for a cozy, down-to-earth, neighborhoody joint, look no further. DaCiro won’t disappoint.

229 Lexington Ave.
New York , NY 10016
Phone: (212) 532-1636

Wine list : somewhat average and slightly overpriced
MC, Visa, Amex and Discover
Good desserts, save room.