February 28, 2005 | Ask Gael
The Windows on the World guys? At Guastavinos?

        Windows on the World veterans have signed on to elevate the pleasure quotient at Guastavino's, Sir Terence Conran’s soaring, unfocused space under the Queensboro Bridge. A major face-lift designed to warm up the landmark tiled arches won’t emerge 'til August. But the kitchen already shows Lomonaco’s strong hand in straightforward, seasonally inspired classics. Small ramekins of coarsely chopped duck liver, Sicilian olive tapenade, and garlicky white bean purée to spread on crostini are the chef’s rustic welcome. The charcuterie platter makes a fine starter to share. Olive-oil-slicked tuna carpaccio with a zing of salt crystals is the choice over vapid bay scallop seviche. Do I detect a fatal tameness, a desire not to offend anyone’s uptight mother-in-law? Pappardelle heaped with short rib and porcini, and thick lamb chops beside a layering of eggplant, tomato, onion, and feta, are surefire crowd-pleasers. And Saturday night’s rib eye is heaped with fried shallot crisps. Bored with sliced duck breast fanned on the plate, I asked for mine served as a steak. And it was fabulous. Remembering Lomonaco’s triumph at Wild Blue in 1999, I’ll be watching for a revival of the lush lobster risotto in crab-shrimp-lobster cream - a thrill that rivaled the night view from Windows’ lofty perch.

409 E. 59th Street near First Ave. 212 980 2455



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