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At the Leopard at des Artistes, neighborhood regulars and New York luminaries dine nightly on gnudi beneath naked nymph murals that have hung here since 1934. This famous dining room, restored in 2011 when the Leopard made it its den, is one of the city’s most attractive and refined, and worth a visit just to see.
Fortunately, the Leopard is more than just a pretty kitty. Chef Michele Brogioni's kitchen produces Southern Italian cuisine grounded in tradition but crowned with decadent yet fitting embellishments. Mains, like a lamb chop in puttanesca sauce, are solid, but pastas are the real standouts. The aforementioned gnudi, served in a sharp butter and Parmigiana-Reggiano sauce with sage and wild mushrooms are every bit as remarkable as the famed dish at the Spotted Pig—a supplemental white truffle shaving is worth going in for, the heady taste of the truffles a beguiling complement to the dish. A toothsome “taste of the sea” tangle of linguine, clams and cherry tomatoes mingling with creamy sea urchin in bright lemon sauce is an absolute showstopper. Desserts also shine: The almond semifreddo or ricotta cannoli are sure to leave you grinning at the end of your meal.