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Best Italian Restaurant

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Il Buco has been quietly carrying on the business of serving authentic Italian food — not Italian with a New York accent, but actual Italian — for more than twenty years. Owner Donna Lennard initially opened an antiques store in this former artist’s studio on Bond Street, where, little by little, she and her Italian business partner, Alberto Avalle, switched from selling vintage quilts and furniture to serving small bites, wine, and beer. Today the restaurant, whose food Lennard says is actually more Mediterranean-inspired than exclusively Italian, is an off-the-radar gem. Its cozy, rustic dining room is decorated with artifacts, books, and old pottery, as if it’s been lifted straight out of an ancient Umbrian farmhouse. Preparing food that transcends its pure and simple nature takes a great deal of talent — and soul. The menu (overseen by chef Joel Hough), comprising a dozen or so seasonal appetizers and a handful of pastas, risottos, and meat and seafood main dishes, is deeply flavorful and thrillingly satisfying. Go, and be prepared to be transported by humble pleasures at one of Il Buco’s planked-wood tables. 47 Bond Street, Manhattan 10012, 212-533-1932, ilbuco.com/home.html

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