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Caffé di Pagliacci; Limani Mediterranean Grill

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At in the Fan, a large performance poster of a Met production of the opera greets you in the entryway. A synopsis of the opera is printed on the back of the menu. It's a big buildup, the equivalent of an orchestral overture. But the theme seems a little too ambitious. Though each course has its high points, the preparations seem not quite up to such lofty standards. The baked Snapper Rosso Farcito con Gambretti ($16.95) was muted by a too thick blanket of shrimp stuffing and a squall of paprika, and the Saltimbocca ($14.95) was overplayed by excessive mustard. The Canelloni stuffed with ricotta cheese, spinach, sauce and pounded chicken and veal ($8.95) stole the show, relatively speaking. The homemade pasta, with its remarkably light texture, is the real diva here. Hoping for a "wow" finish, we concluded with cheesecake ($3.95), Cannoli ($3.50), and Tiramisu ($3.95). But the desserts, all fine, did not deliver the drama we anticipated. As the curtain dropped and the bill was paid, we offered polite though brief applause for a respectable performance. — Noel Patrick Limani Mediterranean Grill, transformed from the space that was once Café Mosaic, offers mostly fish and shellfish grilled almost exclusively over wood. That simplicity requires a top-notch product. Whole fish choices — subject to market availability — were rockfish (farm-raised), yellowfin snapper, red snapper and rainbow trout; fillets were grouper, tuna, Arctic char, and swordfish; as well as shrimp and scallops. Basted with oregano-infused olive oil and garnished only with a grilled lemon, the fish must be not only fresh but perfectly cooked. Red snapper and rockfish were delicate and succulent. A rather thick grouper fillet could have had another minute on the grill, but if I have to choose between overcooked fish and undercooked, I'll choose the latter. But the fish was good. — Davis Morton

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