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Via Verdi Cucina Rustica Lends Italian Charm to the Upper Eastside

Outfitted in black suits without ties, Fabrizio Carro and Cristiano Vezzoli dart from table to table to inquire about their patrons' meals and to extol the virtues of various regional Italian dishes. As they maneuver between the restaurant's interior and the terrace, their tousled black curls and matching facial scruff render them virtually indistinguishable.

It's Saturday night, and the canopied exterior of Via Verdi Cucina Rustica is full. In the unadorned, candlelit space, elderly couples, 40-somethings with small children, and pretty young things appear at ease. They might as well be lounging in a friend's backyard. When either Fabrizio or Cristiano approaches their table with a cheery "buona sera," they sit up straighter and respond enthusiastically.

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.