by Julie Besonen, 11/20/2012
Photo: Kat Bryant Photography
403 E. 12th St., 646-602-1300, East Village, Manhattan
Hearth is aptly named: this restaurant is a warm refuge. The red-hued decor is rustic and simple, but what really sets the place apart—aside from Marco Canora's fabulous American-Italian fare and Paul Grieco's deeply informed wine list—is the service. Cordiality reigns from start to finish, with servers dressed not in uniforms but as individuals. A gift from the chef arrives first, perhaps a shot glass of pureed butternut squash soup with a float of dark pumpkin oil. For all the emphasis on alcohol (including seasonal wines, craft cocktails, beers and ciders), those who don't drink are also given special attention. Praise a nonalcoholic drink and your server, unasked, may just return with the recipe. Large-format feasts (say, triple-tier seafood platters, standing rib roast, whole apple pie) are offered to groups year-round, not just at holiday time.