The former chef at New York City’s famous River Café, Rick Laakkonen, heads up the kitchen at this 300-plus seat bi-level restaurant and lounge that features an antipasto bar serving cured meats, artisanal cheeses, and seafood platters. Plated entrées include fresh spaghetti with a Sunday style ragu of meatballs, sausage, and braciolo; grilled branzino, and a selection of prime steaks (filet mignon, New York strip, rib eye, hangar, porterhouse, and chateaubriand for two). The 400-plus bottle majority Italian wine list was granted the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Flights of wines and verticals of cheeses are offered in the wine bar (enoteca). Lunch Mon to Fri; dinner every day; closed Sun for private events. Outdoor terrazzo May through October. Reservations strongly suggested.
Best Chocolate Dessert: Gianduja Chocolate Cake 2008. What else would you expect from a star chef than a star dessert? And even better than a star dessert is a star chocolate dessert. What makes the gianduja cake at Antipasti an A+ delight? It's the contrast of textures; a smooth, dense filling over a crispy, wafer-like crust; and the perfectly balanced combination of crunchy hazelnut and smooth chocolate. Executive Chef Rick Laakkonen, who began his culinary training in pastry-making at Eacutecole Lenocirctre in Plaisir, France, says the gianduja is a collaborative creation between him and pastry chef Shoukat Hussam. 'It's comfortably in the lead as our most popular dessert,' Laakkonen says.