Sitting at a bar stool, beneath the chalkboard scrawled with daily specials, splitting a dish of olives and a half-carafe of something red, Spanish and spicy until a table opens up—that's how one ought to start a meal at Lauro. It allows a person time to watch the flame and sizzle of the kitchen's open line, time for the amber lighting and the red wine to settle with a pleasant heaviness, time to ogle passing dishes and catch appetizing whiffs from neighboring tables. Give it 20 minutes, then you're ready. Opt for one of the many window tables at this glass-wrapped corner space, and start with a copper egg of mussels spiked with chouriço sausage, roasted peppers and cilantro, fresh from Lauro's wood-fired oven. Counter their steamy heat with a refreshing summer salad of melon, feta, pine nuts, olives and a brisk dusting of mint. Order more wine. Then look toward entrees like the culotte steak with potato and arugula salad, or Lauro's signature main course, a plump chicken breast oozing goat cheese and dressed with jammy quince sauce. Or go lighter and order a pizza margherita and crème brûlée with rosemary shortbread. And maybe a little more wine.
Order this: Shellfish—mussels, clams or what else the kitchen has to offer, all toasty from the wood-fired inferno.
Best deal: A few small plates won't stuff you but won't break the bank either.
I'll pass: Smoked-salmon ravioli was heavy, starchy and boring—uncharacteristic of Lauro.