Best Italian Restaurant

Jasper's Restaurant

Back in 1954, an ambitious young Jasper Mirabile, the son of Sicilian-born immigrants, risked his savings to buy a little neighborhood restaurant and bar in Waldo. For the first decade, he and his wife, Josephine, served traditional Italian-American dishes, but in 1965 Mirabile took an even bigger gamble and turned his namesake restaurant into the city's first upscale ristorante. For three decades, Mirabile served fettuccine Alfredo, cherries jubilee and made-at-tableside Caesar salads in a luxuriously appointed dining room attended by tuxedo-clad waiters. The third incarnation of Jasper's Restaurant opened on 103rd Street in 1998, shortly after the senior Mirabile died. His sons, Leonard and Jasper Jr., incorporated their father's ideas into the new venue, which is comfortably casual. (Servers still wear tux shirts but no jackets.) They've combined many of the classic dishes from the old menu (including the decadently rich shrimp Livornese) with Jasper Jr.'s innovations. This autumn, the award-winning chef brings back his luscious ravioli Di Zucca, made with locally grown pumpkins. But despite a menu that changes seasonally, we hope that more recent creations -- a spectacular new pork chop Milanese, an artisan cheese board, creamy lobster cappuccino -- will never say arrivederci.
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