November 9, 2001 | Ask Gael

I want to get in the car and disappear

        That's how I often feel these days. Recently, we headed to Brooklyn and surprised savvy local pals by taking them to a Cucina they'd never seen before. Yes, patron Anthony Scicchitano, the pork-store magnate, has cleaned away the rustic trattoria clutter that launched Fifth Avenue as a destination for dinner. Now it glows handsomely, in a terra-cotta hue. And Franklin Becker (pictured, with Scicchitano), a chef whose cooking I admired at Local, mans the kitchen, conceding: "It's time to cook for real people." He pays homage to Italian classics in a luscious antipasto platter (enough for three or four to share) and lively linguine with clams and pancetta in spicy garlic oil, but he dares delicate scallop crudo, too. We're on to lamb osso buco and a first-rate steak, though I'd be content with just his savory vegetables. And pear crostata.
Cucina 256 Fifth Avenue, near Carroll Street, Brooklyn 718 230 0711

Patina Restaurant Group