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Riso al Salto con L'Osso

Zio Ristorante (17 West 19th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue, 212-352-1700) may have opened in June, but we finally got to try it last week. It’s Southern Italian and Mediterranean inspired food with Chef Massimiliano (Max) Convertini, originally from Brindisi, at the helm. Also involved are co-creators Darren Berman and Roberto Manfe.

It takes a lot of courage to open up another Italian restaurant in New York City, with hundreds of existing Italian eateries and even a handful of amazing ones already in the Flatiron area. But this menu has some unique dishes that are definitely worth trying.

Ravioli alla Vaccinara

For one, the Riso al Salto con L’Osso (Crunchy saffron risotto cake with bone marrow, $13) was new to us. You basically have a risotto cake, crisp on the outside and moist in the center, alongside a bone sliced in half still full with cooked bone marrow, which adds decadently rich flavor you can scoop right on to a bite of the risotto cake. The sauce underneath gives you a savory addition you can dip into to your taste. See the photo here for a look at the dish.

Zio Lava cake

Also very good were the Melanzane (Baked eggplant tortino with smoked mozzarella, $12) and the Ravioli alla Vaccinara (Oxtail ravioli with bone marrow & salted ricotta). Beware the highly addictive, thin and twisted bread sticks put out at the beginning of the meal. I couldn’t stop eating them ahead of our meal.

For dessert we had the Lava cake (Molten chocolate cake with coconut ice cream), as I just have a hard time resisting that combination of oozing chocolate and ice cream.

The space is large yet nicely decorated, split into a more lively front room for dining and drinks alongside an open kitchen, and a back dining area perfect for a long meal.

Zio serves up dinner, lunch, and brunch. I am very curious to try the lunch paninis, particularly the Crudo Panini (Parma prosciutto, mozzarella & black olive spread). Here is a look at the Zio dinner menu.

They have already had some well-known guests including  Anthony Bourdain.

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