Il Grano

The location—a trafficky stretch—is less than romantic, but the room, with butter yellow leather seats, white linens, and dark wood floors, is a haven. Sal Marino’s food is equally exquisite. His crudo is Tsukiji Market fresh, his artichoke salad an airy arrangement of microgreens atop a warm choke drizzled with olive oil. The squid ink pasta, tossed in a creamy sea urchin sauce and topped with tender slices of cuttlefish, exemplifies the chef’s understanding of his ingredients.
Best Crudo, September 2006
Italian for “raw,” crudo is a Mediterranean-style sashimi and one of dining’s more mellifluous pleasures. Il Grano’s Fantasia di Crudo, an aptly named version, is an array of fresh-that-day seafood placed on a glass platter by chef Sal Marino in the order he thinks it best eaten. You may start with a Kumamoto oyster and progress to a sweet, dense scallop, move from there to a piece of velvety stone sole from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market and then to bluefin tuna from Malta (or Ecuador or “wherever it’s wild, best, and fat,” says Marino). The excursion always comes to a glorious end—perhaps with a tender circle of octopus sprinkled with bottarga and drizzled with a Meyer lemon-perfumed vinaigrette.