Lyn-Lake's Risotto is affordably and casually chic

Restaurant does the fussy Italian dish right—but not at lunch

I didn't find a pasta to get excited about, though the penne with prosciutto outshone the linguini with pesto, green beans, and potatoes, which inspired a rare reach for the salt shaker (maybe I was put off by the potato-pasta combo?). I felt the same about the desserts, which included a chocolate mousse cake, panna cotta with raspberry sauce, and, the best of the three, vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured on top and served in a footed glass bowl.

On one of my visits, Risotto's relaxed, homey ambiance turned a little too home-like when chef Lo Pinto conducted an extended phone conversation about the restaurant's financials out in the dining room, rapidly punching buttons on the POS machine and discussing sales tax increases. But overall, Risotto is a nice spot for enjoying Italian food and wine, and its low-key approach seems appropriate for the neighborhood.

House manager Patrice O'Hanlon and chef Gabriele Lo Pinto show off the chicken breast with leeks and mushrooms
Alma Guzman
House manager Patrice O'Hanlon and chef Gabriele Lo Pinto show off the chicken breast with leeks and mushrooms

So far, dinner service appears to be going well, attracting diners at both ends of the age spectrum, from an elderly man in a seersucker jacket to a diaper-swaddled baby plunked in the middle of the table. Yet during lunchtime, when Risotto's nearly empty dining room looked out on a vacant storefront and the liquidating inventory of Heavenly Soles, I couldn't help but wonder if Lyn-Lake is not quite ready for its post-road-construction restaurant revival. The neighborhood has certainly gentrified in the past few years, with the arrival of several new apartment-condo projects, but it's also still home to both the Country Bar and the VFW, among the diviest of the area's last remaining dive bars. As much as I like the gyros at Falafel King and the sweet-potato fries at Herkimer, I'd like to see the neighborhood support a diversity of dining options. 

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