Slideshow: Torrisi Italian Specialties: Spectacular Dinner Menu, Way Beyond the Red Sauce

Eggplant appetizer
Eggplant appetizer
Studded with superb Salumeria Biellese lamb sausage.
Warm Mozzarella, DaVero Olive Oil, Milk Thistle Cream
Warm Mozzarella, DaVero Olive Oil, Milk Thistle Cream
This may be the single best plate of mozzarella I've ever been served in this country. According to Rich Torrisi, "The mozzarella is made to order by applying the right temperature heavily salted water (180-190 degrees) to the room temperature curd. The curd is melted gently until it forms a homogenous mass. Once this happens Mario works it just a little and forms a ball. The ball is placed immediately in its dish and is finished with a little Milk Thistle cream, Da Vero olive oil, and sea salt."
Garlic bread
Garlic bread
It's got a spread that is made of olive oil, garlic confit, dried oregano, tomato powder, and butter.
Scungilli Marinara
Scungilli Marinara
Way better than anything I've had in a Little Italy restaurant.
Frank's Salami Bread
Frank's Salami Bread
Not just bread—a thing of genius. The bread is studded with pieces of salami, spread with creamy baccala that's somehow not at all fishy, and, in a flight of Moroccan fancy, topped with some cured lemon. Frank Parisi bakes the loaves that the Torrisi crew then stuff with the meats and spices; the salted cod doesn't get fishy since it's bought fresh and house-cured.
Sheep's milk ricotta gnudi
Sheep's milk ricotta gnudi
Going straight into my hall of fame. It's served with Rick Bishop's ramps and Pecorino. Both the ricotta and the Pecorino come from Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville, NY. The sheep's milk ricotta is so fresh it's made on Thursday and picked up in the Union Square greenmarket on Friday morning. You say gnocchi, they say gnudi—these are perfect dumplings no matter what they are called.
Devil's chicken
Devil's chicken
It sounds like just another chicken dish enlivened by some heat-producing ingredient, but there's a lot more going on. A whole fresh chicken is cooked sous-vide before breasts and thighs are charred on a hot grill, then tossed in a chili paste—New Mexican chilis, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic confit. It's all placed on atop yogurt and served with a salad with breadcrumbs for a dish that's crunchy and creamy and spicy, smoky and sweet.
Dessert plate
Dessert plate
Rainbow cookies, mini-cream puffs, little cannoli made with Salvatore ricotta, nouget, and St. Joseph's fritters all added up to make me a first-time believer in Italian-American bakery-derived sweets.