** Update: Joseph Rosselli is now executive chef at Vero; Massimo Fedozzi left in Feb. 2013 **
Vero opened with flair in December 2010 and closed by fire within six months. Now, the Italian restaurant has returned, true to its name and making everyone welcome in the new year.
Chef Massimo Fedozzi, who earned Vero three and a half stars last time, once more makes this address a dining destination.
Fedozzi has tweaked but not transformed his appealing menu, which delivers a taste of authenticity in plates small and large.
His dining room, just beyond the busy bar, remains a sleek affair, with comfortable banquettes and tables just big enough to accommodate your appetite.
You'll enjoy browsing: cured meats, cheeses and bruschetti; savory little openers; exceptional pastas; and, this go-round, standard-size main courses.
Easily recommended is n'duja, a fiery Calabrian spiced salami, spreadable on bread, capped with pickled shallots. Also, consider a mouthful of coarsely ground, fennel-spiked sausage; another ignited with garlic and black peppercorns; and the coppa, made with Berkshire pork shoulder.
Fedozzi and chef de cuisine Joseph Roselli send out deliciously sweet-tart caponata. And their selection of cheeses, from Parmesan and Gorgonzola to robiola and burrata, ensures a good time over drinks.
You could compose an outstanding meal simply with the smaller dishes. These piattini are highlighted by polenta fries paired with roasted-tomato pesto; roasted beets with ricotta salata; "Nonna's meatball sliders"; a combo of grilled sausage and white beans; terrific pork ribs; and Arborio rice fritters with tomato sauce.
Refresh yourself with a salad of sliced fennel and citrus; or one with peppery arugula and shavings of Grana Padano cheese.
Pastas are available in half-orders. But resist restraint. Tortelli, or pasta packets with butternut squash and Parmesan, arrives in a sage-and-butter sauce. It's no pasta del giorno; this is a candidate for pasta dell'anno.
Cavatelli with braised, pulled pork plus ricotta salata; garganelli in a duck ragu; and ricotta gnocchi in porcini-mushrom sauce are the tortelli's rich rivals. But ribbons of scialatielli all'Amatriciana; and strascinati, the grooved pasta of Basilicata, with broccoli rabe and sausage heighten the regional competition, too.
And, if you're feeling particularly Piedmontese, Vero offers creamy polenta on a wooden board, finished with the ragu du jour.
The primary change from the original Vero is the standard-size main course. The 32-ounce bistecca alla Fiorentina, easily shared, may not transport you to Tuscany, but it's a very good sliced steak.
Conclude with an affogato, or gelato doused with espresso, juiced up with tart cherries and crowned with whipped cream.
It just adds to the buzz.