If not for an accompanying hillock of gigante beans, Café Altro Paradiso’s paunchy pork sausage — browned and left whole — would look right at home in your neighborhood biergarten. But not all is as it seems, so spear yourself a meaty nugget, dab on some spicy pear mostarda, and thank your stars that Ignacio Mattos is cooking Italian food again.
In this age of rainbow foodstuffs and block-long milkshake lines, you might be tempted to write off dishes like that poor lone sausage or a straightforward serving of anchovies on toast. Don’t. Mattos and chef de cuisine Aidan O’Neal home in on a few judiciously handled elements to make most of their plates soar. Those anchovies are nimbly laced with chile oil and parsley. Thinly sliced, citrusy raw fluke enjoys a jolt from halved caper berries. There’s a surprise lurking underneath the crimson blob of bison carpaccio, which arrives looking like a magician’s kerchief before the reveal: Beneath it lies a mound of salty potato crisps. The plating may give you pause, but who cares when the flavors are this pristine? — Zachary Feldman