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Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonZuppa de pesce at Rafele
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Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonFava beans, fennel and pecorino at Rafele
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Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonGnocchi at Rafele
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Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonSoft-shell crab and spring asparagus at Rafele
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Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonFoccacia at Rafele

The Feed first look: Rafele

Locavore Italian arrives in the West Village.

By Mari Uyehara

In mid-May, Naples-born Raffaele Ronca, formerly chef at Bellavitae and Palma, will debut his first solo project: Rafele, a 70-seat, bi-level trattoria devoted to his Italian roots and adopted New York home. Ronca works local ingredients (Long Island fish, Ottomanelli grass-fed meats and produce from upstate's Blooming Hill Farm) into traditional antipasti, primi and secondi dishes. Take a seat at the Venetian-marble counter and watch him pull plates from a mammoth brick oven in the dining room, where terra-cotta floors and reclaimed wood outfit the space. The imported wood-burning hearth from Acunto, an esteemed Italian manufacturer since 1892, lends a smoky scent to most dishes on the menu, including a boneless roasted chicken accompanied by kale and ramps, a tomato-based zuppa de pesce and porchetta-style pork belly. Ronca also douses the wood with different spirits (brandy, grappa) to add an extra layer of flavor. Downstairs, a glass-enclosed wine cellar housing 70 European selections doubles as an intimate private dining room, with a 20-seat table crafted from old beams. 29 Seventh Ave South at Morton St (212-242-1999)


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