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Calf’s Liver at Il Cantinori

It’s what your Tuscan grandma might make and what Keith Richards would order

At first glance, the traditional Tuscan calf’s liver, aka fegato alla salvia, might appear like an anachronism from some Italian grandmother’s kitchen. But the first bite explains why it has never left the menu during the entire 30-year run of the restaurant Il Cantinori.


Il Cantinori liver

Liver at Il Cantinori (Photo: Hernan F. Rodriguez)

The Village restaurant’s calf’s liver ($27) is a terrific throwback that showcases a simple but flavorful preparation of a quality cut of meat. The thinly-sliced liver is lightly dusted with flour, then carefully pan sautéed in brown butter and sage. The resulting flavor is decidedly un-livery: nutty, herbal, clean and meaty, enough to make you realize the only reason you don’t eat it more often is that it isn’t often found on menus. The revelation is so startling that you may even, for a minute, forget the celebrities scattered throughout the room, even if Madonna, Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow and Keith Richards, all ardent fans of the restaurant, happen to be a few feet away. Keith Richards, in fact, loves the liver so much that he has been known to order it twice in one sitting: as an appetizer and as an entrée. (Perhaps the legendary hard-partying rocker is striving to eat enough liver in order to regenerate his own?)

Il Cantinori celebrated its 30th birthday last month. To mark the occasion, the restaurant held a charity event for the Food Bank For New York City, also celebrating its own 30th  anniversary. The event raised enough money to provide 117,000 meals to hungry New Yorkers, proving that Il Cantinori is not only a restaurant with a good liver, it also has a very good heart.

Il Cantinori
32 East 10th St.

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