Ni.Do. Mozzarella Bar: Italian Done Easy on the Upper Eastside

Ni.Do. Mozzarella Bar opened quietly in MiMo last month -- no press release, no big party. It's just a quiet little café, buried in one of the area's gentrified strip malls, that happens to make its own mozzarella. It's a pretty space, offering a comfortable spot to rest for a few hours over freshly brewed espresso and torta del giorno. There are overstuffed couches for lounging and a long bar with rotating happy-hour specials on wines, beers, and prosecco-based cocktails daily from 4 to 8 p.m.

The sense of home is immediate, and a friendly Italian couple named Matteo and Giorgia will welcome you to linger. Giorgia was the owner of Gusto Vino & Caffè in South Beach, and partner Luca Taretto was the executive chef at Tiramesu. (He also worked in Milan for Claudio Cracco, which is a two-Michelin-star restaurant.) The menu is straightforward, Italian comfort style. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina ($13) has a light tomato sauce with fresh basil and globs of burata (and, yes, the cheese is made in-house). Layered eggplant parmigiana ($9.50), classic lasagna with bolognese sauce, and an herb-rubbed roasted half-chicken ($18) are all guileless replications of the original recipes.

There is also a small array of olive oils and pastas for sale, as well as salumi by the pound. The majority of offerings are made here -- including the pastas, breads, and desserts. "We have a laboratory that ships the original ingredients for us to make them and finish the product here," Giorgia says. We love Italian imports (pass the truffle oil, please).

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