My brother Mike despises brunch. Why? He doesn't much like the inherent limitations of most brunch menus (eggs benedict, french toast, pancakes), and he's not one to wait in line to eat. So when I wandered into Bar Stuzzichini last Saturday at one in the afternoon and discovered I did not have to wait to eat what I wanted off either its brunch or full lunch menu, I knew I had discovered a place my brother could potentially love. I ordered the five small plates for $20 special, which offers a broad range of options. I had slightly crunchy, toothsome fried polpette (meatballs), lovely arancini (rice balls), ceci (chickpea) crostini, three hunks of a nutty, complex Pecorino Grand Cru, and a small plate of perfectly fried, light as a cloud panelle (chickpea fritters). It's a great deal, one which can easily be shared by two people. I can't wait to go back for lunch and/or dinner and try some of chef Paul Di Bari's pastas, which both Bruni and Adam Platt have raved about. One more thing, Mike. It's five blocks from your house.
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