Chef-owner Antonio Avona, most recently of Antonio’s in Addison Circle, took over the tongs at Positano from original chef Rino Brigliadori more than a year ago. As far as we can tell, he has settled into the neighborhood nicely. At a recent dinner on the patio—outfitted with heaters, fans, and misters—tables were full of what must have been regulars, laughing and bantering with the affable chef.
His staff at Antonio’s must have liked him a lot, because our server followed his old boss over and had nothing but glowing things to say about him and his dishes. He was also familiar with the menu, because most of the items came straight from the Antonio’s lineup. We started off with mussels and couldn’t believe how huge they were—and not a tough one in the bunch. I only wish they had arrived in a deeper bowl so they could soak in their white wine and butter broth. A special request for an appetizer-size cioppino was granted amicably, and we were pleased with the hearty chunks of redfish, scallops, shrimp, mussels, and clams swimming in a fresh tomato base with a hint of red pepper.
Veal marsala with wild mushroom was hearty and woodsy, but a side of bowtie pasta tossed in a so-so marinara sauce was an inappropriate and lousy accompaniment. Orecchiette with olive oil, garlic, and broccoli rabe was a light pasta made heartier with Italian sausage, another special request granted. Our wine for the night, a Nuhar Nero D’Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Sicily recommended by the chef, had a nice price at $36. No wonder his regulars like him so much.
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