Perbacco: If there is a restaurant that coddles in these heavy economic times, it is this one. It looks like every other rustic East Village candle lit Italian restaurant and the long written menu all but confirms it. However, there's something a good deal better happening here. As our man Frankie Big Dog has noted, the best dishes—rather, the best specials—are excellent and the prices far from menacing. I'll humbly post script that now, on a random Tuesday at 8PM, it is still spectacular, if a preview taste (impromptu, $150 for the works paid for in full) of the winter menu is any indication. Order the shell fish sausages cooked in clay with chickpea, peppers and tomato or the duck ragu pasta. Both elegantly rustic, neither are on the menu yet. For the full show, get Antonello talking about, and pouring, his wines, too. —BL
Motorino: No question new pizza place Motorino is a game changer for this part of Williamsburg. The L stops between Lorimer and Morgan (and then again after Jefferson) are really in a sad state, and the locals are hoping best case Motorino can begin a renaissance, worst case act as a beacon for the area. Over three visits since the place opened ten days ago, it has served up a consistently excellent pie. Kuban might not be on the same page just yet, but let it be said, it's better, and less obnoxious, than Una Pizza. —Kludt
Esca: First, in truth, I hadn't been to Esca in at least a year, could have been two. Because, 9th Avenue and 43rd Street. Really. I'll keep this quick, but suffice it to say that for all the buzz Le Bern gets for its seafood prowess, the stuff at Esca has to rate, too. Salt crusted branzino for two is an exercise in perfection. Minus one point for running out of the flagship spaghetti; plus two for the squid ink back-up version. On a Sunday night, the place makes a teensy tiny bit of a compelling case for living in this wasteland neighborhood. —BL
Scarpetta: During the NYWFF, no wait at 9 p.m. for a quick dinner in the front bar room. Scotty Conant stood sentry outside greeting guests. We order two pastas, two glasses of wine, all fantastic. Phenomenal. However there is a small snafu here: one pasta came out a solid ten minutes before the other. We'll attribute the distraction to the fact that there were some big guns (we heard they had a number of buy outs over the fest) over in the main dining. —Kludt
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