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Mirrors, Mirrors in the Stall at Umberto’s Clam House

Umberto’s Clam House is best known as the place where mobster Crazy Joe Gallo was gunned down while eating scungilli with clam sauce; these days the pasta mill is a couple of blocks away from its original location and the only thing likely to kill you is the massive plate of butter-bombed linguine Alfredo (though just as cheesy maritime décor may well blind you). Still, after eating with our backs to the wall we decided to check out the restrooms in order to see a side of New York City to which only tourists are, well, privy.

Morandi’s Deceptively Simple Duck Sandwich

Chef Jody Williams had made her mark as a master of Italian cuisine at Gusto when Keith McNally hired her to run the kitchen at Morandi. Like most of her cooking, this duck sandwich with quince and apple mostarda and green savoy cabbage appears simple and rustic but was created with a great deal of thought and technique. Mouse over the arrows for Jody Williams’s explanation of each ingredient.

Order Anything You Can Think of at Fabio Piccolo Fiore

If you live or work on East 44th Street, it’s very likely that you’ve already been treated to the gracious hospitality of Fabio Hakill and Nick Nubile, owners of the new Italian restaurant Fabio Piccolo Fiore, which opens officially today. To ingratiate themselves to the neighborhood and work out the inevitable pre-opening kinks, chef Fabio served complimentary lunches and dinners all last week, putting his jacketed captains and polished waiters through their truffled-risotto-spooning paces. After serving a ten-year stint at Corona’s legendary Park Side, Hakill, a half-Sicilian, half-Egyptian native of Rome, hopes to make as many fans in midtown Manhattan as he did in the Queens dining room where he met Nubile, the contractor who would become his business partner, and general manager Steve Danz, who left a career in TV sports production to run Fabio’s front of the house.

Artichokes, Straight Outta Cali

Agata & Valentina Ristorante draws on its sister market’s first-class produce, and right now, that means Castroville artichokes from California, the very first of the season. “They’re meatier and more tender than the ones we’ve been seeing, which all come from South America,” executive project manager Sarah Taylor tells us. “They’re bigger, and they have more flavor, too.” Tonight, in honor of these new arrivals, chef Salvatore Fraterrigo is offering a stuffed-artichokes special ($9). The veggies are crammed full of bread crumbs and garlic, per the traditional recipe, then supplemented with tangy anchovies, rich but mild caciocavallo cow’s-milk cheese, and Parmesano Reggiano, standing in for the more usual Pecorino Romano to give the dish an extra dose of class.

Morandi Is On for Lunch: Care to See the Menu?

Morandi, the love child of Keith McNally and Jody Williams, has started serving lunch. Allow us to show you the menu, which is available from noon until 3 p.m. weekdays (reservations are taken up to one week in advance) and features poached-salmon paninis, saltimbocca, and pollo alla diavola. Good as the food sounds, you may be more excited by the fact that, first, you’ll now be able to score a seat during civilized hours (we just asked for a one o'clock table tomorrow and felt no pain) and, second, the weather is nice enough for them to have thrown open the French doors. Better still: outdoor tables in the summer and brunch coming soon. —Daniel Maurer Related: Restaurant Openings [NYM]

PM Owners to Open Harlem Restaurant, Bistro-Bakery-Club in Sascha Space

PM owners (and brothers) Kyky and Unik are poised to increase their footprint on the meatpacking district: They’ve acquired the space that formerly housed Sascha and plan to reopen it in June as an as-yet-unnamed three-part venue that’ll include a 24-hour sandwich spot with bakery, a casual Italian bistro, and an exclusive lounge with black-on-black décor that will host D.J.’s and live music.

Keith McNally on Why Morandi Will Be His Last Restaurant Ever

This Sunday, if all goes according to plan, Keith McNally will fling open the doors of Morandi, his new West Village trattoria. (See our opening announcement; here’s the menu.) Until then, there is pine to be varnished, Italian bread to be baked at Balthazar Bakery, and pasta to be rolled and stuffed by chef Jody Williams, with the fortuitous help of a McNally deputy’s visiting 80-year-old Bolognese mother. In the midst of the pre-opening chaos, Mr. McNally took some time to explain why the Brit who invented the New York breed of French brasserie is opening an Italian place in his own backyard.

Chef Odette Fada Refuses to Eat Anyone Else’s Pasta

When she’s not commanding the kitchen of the venerable San Domenico, as she has done for over a decade, Odette Fada rummages for cheese, sausage, and foie gras in her fridge; goes for late-night dinners at Balthazar and Blue Ribbon; or stops in at her friends’ restaurants to enjoy off-the-menu items. Will you ever catch the Parmigiano Reggiano obsessive ordering pasta at one of these places? Probably not: “The only person here who can cook pasta,” she says, “is me!” We asked her what culinary pleasures she experienced this week.

Yes, Soup for You!

Last week we lamented the freakishly warm weather’s impact on the availability (and desirability) of cassoulet. Now that New York has finally hit a cold pocket, we’re taking the opportunity to recommend three soups that are the culinary equivalent of kicking back by a roaring fire. fire.