June 11, 2007 | Insatiable Critic

Aurora Soho

Sharing grilled flatbread heaped with mozzarella and prosciutto. Photo: Steven Richter
Sharing grilled flatbread heaped with mozzarella and prosciutto at Aurora Soho. Photo: Steven Richter

         A glance at the menu reveals the grand ambition of Aurora SoHo: Summer truffles indeed.  A generous scattering of the lightly-scented fungus paves a hill of pappardelle lushly bathed in butter and an emulsion of truffle ends. We’d suffer less without music in this din. The rustic narrow space with its bare brick walls and country tools hanging is fiercely noisy and the kitchen creeps tonight.

        But our gourmand quartet is soothed by Chef Riccardo Buitoni’s finesse and his confident way with deliciously stuffed squash blossoms alongside a sensational salad of baby arugla and herb snippets. It’s not just mozzarella here, it’s buffalo mozzarella. And waxy spring beans add crunch to savory grilled octopus in roasted tomato vinaigrette. Thin slices of moist veal atop a tuna-mayonnaise sauce is a sultry summer favorite of mine. And I love the salty accent of tiny deep-fried capers and also, the house-baked bread.

        Choose a pasta -- splendid pesto-tossed penne with roasted eggplant and grape tomatoes or pappardelle with braised veal cheeks and tiny asparagus cuts -- and you can eat well on a moderate budget here. But the check climbs with yet another quartino of red, an extra starter you can’t resist, the crusty lamb chops alongside a homemade lamb and mint sausage or the rib eye.

        Still, you might want to splurge on smartly bitter chocolate ganache with a shot glass of espresso granita or the gossamer fennel pollen panna cotta set off by a spill of aged balsamic vinegar and rhubarb compote.

510 Broome Street near West Broadway 212 334 9020