10 Can't Miss Dishes
(page 9 of 10)
“A lot of what we do is peasant cooking,” says Sam Allen, the manager at this tiny Northern Italian spot. “But we don’t like to box ourselves in. We take classic Italian dishes and get creative from there.” It’s the “creative” touches — and a deft hand in the kitchen — that lift the cooking here above the norm. Regulars are accustomed to finding fare like tagliolini with shaved black truffles, pappardelle white bolognese (made with ground veal, white wine, herbs, and cream), or rabbit ragu. There may be a dozen daily specials. Vegetables change regularly, too, with preparations making the most of freshness. “We keep it simple on purpose,” Allen says.
Those in need of one of life’s most comforting comfort foods opt for the signature osso buco, a veal shank braised with celery, carrots, onions, red wine, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Slow cooking melts the marrow out of the bone, adding rich depth of flavor. (Osso buco loosely translates to “hollow bone.”) The fork-tender meat is served over yellow loose polenta and topped with a traditional dollop of gremolata (minced parsley, lemon zest, garlic, pinoli, and olive oil).
Yoshiko Rizzo, the owner, is “the boss, the think-tank of the place, and the baker,” says Allen, who is her son and a waiter as well as the manager. Rizzo, who learned a lot about fine Italian food during the decade that she worked at Il Cenácolo, is locally famous for her desserts. “People are wowed,” reports Allen. “I think their favorite thing is that the list is so extensive. There are 20-something desserts, with different sauces, and everything’s homemade from scratch.”
Il Tesoro, with just 12 tables, is a relaxed, neighborhoody place. “It’s friendly,” Allen says. “We’re not trying to be sophisticated. But we’re pros. We know about wine, we know food, we can turn it on.”