After learning a few hard truths, Verace has started thinking big -- or, at least bigger.
Last year, the smart, stylized restaurant specialized in achingly small plates, imaginative stuff for grazers. But anyone with a major appetite would have to order a lot more. The snacking eventually led to some larger dishes. Diners had to develop a strategy to savor the not-quite "true Italian" but mostly flavorful fare of departed chef Francesco Torre.
Now, the menu has a more traditional structure. More important, the food from chef Michael Wilson is very satisfying. Wilson is a veteran of Prime in Huntington, owned by the Bohlsen family, which also runs Verace and neighboring Tellers Chophouse. Corporate chef Cornelius Gallagher contributed to the revised selections.
The streamlined look of the place is the same, complete with dramatic barrel-vaulted ceiling and artful papering. And you can bring an appetite.
Start with the first-class assortment of cured meats and Italian cheeses, from zesty coppa and smooth mortadella to creamy crescienza and assertive Gorgonzola. Nibble on a pizza. Standouts: spicy sopressata, Asiago and whipped ricotta; and Gorgonzola and pear. Filone, or grilled bread topped with tomato-fig marmalade and shaved ricotta, also is appetizing. Wilson prepares an outstanding spaghetti alla carbonara, the Roman classic starring pancetta and Parmesan; and a rich, soulful gnocchi Piedmontese with Taleggio and toasted bread crumbs. Tasty linguine with white clam sauce, too. Lasagna with meat sauce manages to be both hearty and light. Then, sample the monkfish finished with roasted-shrimp sauce, fried potatoes and broccoli rabe; or the roasted version with sweet peppers, artichokes and tomato. Slowly cooked pork, with fruity, sweet-mustard sauce, has homey appeal. Chocolate cake, cheesecake and gelati head the finales.
Routine, overdone chicken Parmesan. Forgettable cavatelli with tomato and broccoli rabe. Limp Tuscan Bolognese-sauced maltagliati pasta. Dry sformato, an Asiago muffin with onion sauce.
THE BOTTOM LINE
What is truth?