Best Of 2014

Best Culinary Magic-Making: Il Ritorno

Best Culinary Magic-Making

The combination of pecorino, truffle fonduta, and concentrated tomato in Il Ritorno’s short rib mezzaluna is like a magic trick: When you bite into the small triangles of translucent pasta, your mouth is full of short rib, yet the braised meat is barely present. The simple filled pasta practically blows your head off with flavor. Chef David Benstock’s charred octopus appetizer is equally magical, but the trick is kept under wraps. How is the octopus so tender? (We suspect a languorous sous vide bath.) Never mind — just take a bite and lap up the sauce of broccoli rabe pesto, parmesan crisp, plus confit tomatoes and garlic with salted capers. You’ll swoon.