April 17, 2006 | Insatiable Critic

A Voce

        All those years chef-partner Andrew Carmellini spent pleasing Daniel at Café Boulud inform everything that’s wonderful right now at the new A Voce. Almost too many junior execs on the floor, smartly trained, pampering a knowing crowd. The daily changing menu, plus unlisted last-minute specials, reflecting what’s new. One evening’s special sheep’s milk ricotta with olive oil and grilled bread got so many raves, it’s practically a regular now, depending on shipments from Sardinia. All of us are wild about savory duck meatballs with dried cherry mostarda, deeply lush duck agnolotti, marvelous lamb-shank tortellini, and fatty little veal cheeks on creamy polenta with a hint of orange. Not everything is as triumphant as carne cruda with walnuts, celery, and truffles, or the Tuscan tripe—a bold gesture that scores in our gourmand set. Chicken cacciatore is overly gentrified and I’m put off by an odd aftertaste in the glaze of a sweetbread appetizer. My guy, the Road Food Warrior, is more moved by grandmother’s meat ravioli than by the special pappardelle with lamb Bolognese a week later. As dazzled as I am by the chocolate panna cotta with Amarena cherries, that’s how much I dislike the basil green-apple granita. Still, the ambition and confidence in this smartly redesigned space is tangible. We’ve been twice, and I know we’ll be back soon.

41 Madison Ave. at 26th St. 212 545 8555

Patina Restaurant Group