Capisce de Resistance

(My only quibble with the specials: They're listed on a blackboard, without prices. Customers either have to ask the cost, or pray Leccabaffi won't stick it to them. "Don't ask, don't tell" may work in the military, but it's no way to run a restaurant.)

If folks in your group insist on something other than a plate of animal protein, steer them to the marvelous gnocchetti, prepared Roman style. They aren't the light potato-flour gnocchi dumplings we're used to. These are fashioned out of semolina and molded into three fat disks, then baked, sauteed and coated with a robust blend of fontina and kefalograviera cheeses. This dish is unbelievably rich, and unbelievably satisfying. (As far as I'm aware, only one other Valley restaurant, Cafe Patou, makes gnocchi alla Romana.)

Fettuccine tossed with lobster and fresh tomato is deftly done, if not quite as head-turning as some of the other fare. The same holds true for the risotto. Though goosed up with foie gras and truffles, it seemed not quite creamy enough, and a little too delicate and understated. And although the pizza decorated with mozzarella, roasted peppers, tomato and oregano is first-rate, I simply can't imagine why, given the alternatives, anyone would come here and order pizza.

I can imagine why people would order dessert. The old standards, creme brulee and tiramisu, are skillfully done. So is the ice cream-like semifreddo and puff pastry filled with chocolate cream. But if you really want a treat, kick back with a glass of amber-colored vin santo, Tuscany's classic dessert "holy wine," served with three homemade biscotti. Mama mia, it's good.

Years ago, violinist Fritz Kreisler and pianist Arthur Rubinstein went to hear the young prodigy Jascha Heifitz perform. After the first dazzling piece, a perspiring Kreisler turned to Rubinstein and asked, "Isn't it hot in here?" Replied the smiling, cool-as-a-cucumber Rubinstein: "Only for violinists."

No one could blame this town's Italian-restaurant owners for starting to sweat: Leccabaffi is applying some serious heat.

Leccabaffi Ristorante:
Scamorza affumicata
Gnocchetti di semola
Costoletta alla Valdostana
Mixed seafood grill

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