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Italian Restaurants

Babbo

After your first bite of the kitchen's ethereal homemade pasta "A" or the tender suckling pig, you won't wonder why this place was an instant sensation when it opened, and why reservations are still so hard to get. A five-course pasta tasting menu is the best way to get your fill of fresh noodles, such as the luscious lamb and fresh mint "love letters," or the rich beef-cheek ravioli. Adventuresome eaters will rejoice in the delicious lamb's tongue salad or the custardy brain ravioli, but more timid diners gravitate toward such simple dishes as succulent whole fish baked in salt. The only challenge is getting a reservation. Once you're finally seated, the service is friendly.

Address: SS110 Waverly PI., between MacDougalSt. and 6th Ave.
Phone: 212/777-0303. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. No lunch.

Gemelli

Tony May, who also owns San Domenico, brought authentic Italian cooking downtown at this bright and cheerful Wall Street trattoria. The name is Italian for "twins," but it also denotes the restaurant's signature shape of pasta, a double-rolled noodle served alia gricia with onion, pancetta, and pecorino cheese. The food is simple in an Italian way-cured beef with goat cheese, sea bass in clam broth, roasted lamb chops with grilled vegetables.

Address: 4 World Trade Center, between Church and Day Sts.,
Phone: 212/488-2100. AE, DC, MC, V. No lunch weekends.



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