6 pm-close Tuesday-Saturday. $$-$$$ Moderate-expensive.
[ITALIANATE INTIMACY] The Italian anchor of Micah Camden's restaurant relay race up Northeast 30th Avenue exudes a playful arrogance. Like a magician who shows you how a trick works, only to build to an even grander illusion, DOC's layout plops the kitchen between the front door and the dining room. It's a charming gesture of transparency, and quite necessary, too: Your brief shuffle through the kitchen might just be more informative than the menu, which lists only the most basic ingredients for each dish. If you can afford it—you're eating at DOC, so you probably can—bring a date—the place is très romantic, so you really should—and go with the five-course tasting menu ($50, $85 with wine pairing). They won't serve duplicates, so you'll have the rare opportunity to sample a good 60 percent of the menu in one night, and there's not a single dud in the bunch. The albacore entree, which teams tender oil-poached slabs with dense canned chunks of tuna, ranks among the best fish dishes in town, while the pillowy gnudi shame their stodgy gnocchi forebears with cheesy centers and earthy chanterelle sidekicks. Past 9 pm, glowing couples pop in for desserts like the achingly sweet buttermilk panna cotta, and if you happen to overhear a pair of lovebirds ordering coffee, keep your eyes peeled: the befuddling "vacuum pots," which resemble Martian bongs or IKEA sex toys, bring out something tender and childlike in people, and it's a joy to watch the scene unfold. CHRIS STAMM.
Ideal meal: Beets, beef tongue and horseradish salad; gnudi; albacore.
Best deal: Yes, $100 is a lot, but you get to taste 10 delicious dishes.
Chef's choice: Mutton. "It's lamb for a more adventurous palate. The meat is luxurious; it's darker red, it has more intense-tasting fat—more fat, more marbling." (Timothy Wastell)