Best red sauce rebuttal: Torrisi Italian Specialties

Photograph: Jolie Ruben


Good old-fashioned Italian-American food, eclipsed of late by the real-deal regional cooking of Italy, found an unlikely savior when this spiffy new deli opened its doors on Mulberry Street. What started off as a hoagie shop—serving top-notch chicken parmigiana and roasted-turkey sandwiches—morphed in the evenings into one of the city's most groundbreaking new restaurants. Young chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, veterans of Caf Boulud and Del Posto, lionize the Little Italy pantry, celebrating domestic ingredients like Progresso bread crumbs and La Quercia prosciutto in a $50 nightly prix fixe that's among the best deals in town. Tony Soprano wouldn't know what to make of this food—grilled seafood salad in a zingy pepperoni vinaigrette; striped bass sauced in an upmarket clam chowder. But we wouldn't have it any other way. Torrisi Italian Specialties, 250 Mulberry St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-965-0955,