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Chef Iacopo Falai, formerly of Le Cirque 2000, opened Falai in February 2005. The restaurant features authentic Italian cuisine with an ambitious scope generally not seen in the Lower East Side.

Amuse-bouche: honeydew, prosciutto, garlic almond gazpacho.

2004 Ronco delle Beutulle, Tocai Friulano, Friuli

Polenta, chicken livers, dried dates, wild mushrooms, 15 year old aceto balsamico tradizionale.

This was touted as a “must order”. I thought cardboard had more character. Has the kitchen embraced the idea of salt? Looks pretty though.

Green pea tagliatelle, fava beans, zucchini flowers, black truffles.

By the way, this dish was better than sex and that’s saying something. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. In retrospect, those were the truffles speaking. They overwhelmed the flavor of the sauce coating the tagliatelle.

Branzino wrapped in potato, leeks, white asparagus, huckleberry sauce.

2004 Albani Riesling, Lombardia

It’s difficult to make asparagus flavorless but somehow, the kitchen managed to accomplish it. Huckleberry sauce did nothing for the dish and could’ve used a touch of acid to enliven things.

Berries and Meyer lemon in white rum.

Pecorino foglia di noce, caramelized walnuts dipped in five-spice powder, dried figs, walnut cream

2002 Montetondo, Recioto di Soave, Venice

Out of 10? An upper range 5 to borderline 6. I had heard so much about Falai from friends, not to mention Adam Platt’s review painted a rosy picture. Who knows? I could’ve ordered wrong. The kitchen could’ve had an off night. These things happen. They’re charging midtown prices in a downtown setting. For $130, I shouldn’t have to pay for mediocrity.

Will I be back? Perhaps once in a blue moon. The neat thing about New York is that there are a million restaurants out there and not enough days in the year to try them all.

Falai is located at 68 Clinton Street (Rivington Street) in the Lower East Side.

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In the Pantry

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