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Tini Ristorante Italiano

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Tini Ristorante Italiano

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Address: 1562 Second Ave (at 81st St)
City: New York, NY
Zip: 10028
Phone: (212) 628-3131
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Map: Map
Cuisine: Italian
Area: East 80s
Entree Price: $20-25



Lentini's has changed its name to Tini Ristorante Italiano. The restaurant has recently undergone a facelift. The review below is when it was still Lentini. If for some reason you require proof that Upper East Siders adore Italian food, look no further than the area around Second Avenue and 81st Street, which has almost as many Italian restaurants per square inch as Mulberry Street. So why should you choose Lentini over all the others nearby. In one word: gnocchi. Fans of these little potato dumplings – and count us among them – will probably not find a better rendition of this often-mangled pasta than chef Guiseppe Lentini’s ethereal version napped in a light pink sauce studded with small bits of porcini and sausage. Indeed, pasta fanciers have a wealth of fine options to choose from here, including a delicious homemade papardelle in a surprisingly light veal-and-pesto ragu, and excellent linguine served with superbly cooked lobster and clams in a just-right tomato sauce. Indeed, my recommendation for a meal at this warm and inviting eatery, run by Guiseppe and brother Enzo, is to do appetizer, pasta, and dessert, and forget the entrees. True, two of the main courses we sampled were just fine -- gamberi della casa, fried jumbo shrimp stuffed with spinach and bacon, and fagottino di pollo, two large chicken breasts stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto – but a couple of others (tripe, salmon) were over-seasoned. And the entrees come unadorned, so if you want some pasta, you’ll need to order some anyway. As it happens, many of the starters here are decidedly unusual, including nicely fried octopus, an artichoke filled with shrimp and accompanied by thinly sliced, gently caramelized scallops, and an evening’s special of whole sardines stuffed with cheese and pine nuts that had one of my deciding companions enraptured. More conventional tastes can choose well-prepared baked clams (light on the breading), fried calamari, or a variety of salads. The kitchen’s inventiveness ebbs a bit on the dessert course, though the homemade tiramisu seems like a deconstruction of this Italian favorite, offering a plate of criss-crossed ladyfingers coated in espresso powder with layers of mascarpone. Coffee-lovers might also choose the tasty espresso panna cotta, while those fearful of caffeine will be satisfied by a pleasing ricotta cheesecake or the lemon custard-filled pastries known as cannoncini. And if lemon is your thing (or maybe even if it isn’t), see if Enzo will offer some of his mama’s limoncello. One swig of this smooth, bracing liqueur and you’ll be warmed on even the coldest winter’s night.

Review By: Brian Scott Lipton