Charred beef tongue with cannellini beans ($24)
Beef tongue with a whisper-thin crust that gives you just the slightest resistance before you get to the impossibly tender meat underneath. Beef tongue that's been in brine for a week before it's braised, then charred. "I can't stop thinking about that beef tongue," confessed the friend I'd brought to dinner the next day, in a conspiratorial tone, over coffee. It does that to you.
Potato chips all'amitriciana ($5)
You could imagine a chef riffing off that dish with something simple, like tiny bits of guanciale floating around a pile of chips sprinkled in pecorino. That's be an easy way out, though. Toscano crisps guanciale that he turns into a powder with dehydrated tomato and garlic, and that's what coats these chips in a lick-your-fingers-afterward kind of way, like barbecue dust but unabashedly meaty.
Agnolotti al sugo d'arrosto ($15)
Tidy little parcels whose delicacy masks their decadence. The beef inside is shoulder that's been braised for 14 hours before it's bound with egg, Parmesan, and escarole (which doesn't really interrupt the richness, but that's okay with us). They're dressed in the beef braising liquid which, if you let it sit on the plate too long, will start to solidify; better to eat immediately, then, dragging each little pocket through the sultry sauce.
Orecchiette with sausage and ramp pesto ($15)
It's almost mandatory for ramps to appear on New York menus this time of year. Here, they're made into a pesto that coats the orecchiette and sausage.
Garganelli with tripe, guanciale, tomato, and chile ($14)
Toscano cooks the tripe in vinegar and vanilla before it's ground and integrated into the sauce. It's a pleasant reminder that offal doesn't have to be, well, offal-y; there's no imperative that less commonly used cuts leap out and hit you in the face. They're simply ingredients like other ingredients, and here they blend beautifully.
Chef Michael Toscano
Smiling for the camera.