Seated on the pa­tio with a glass of wine, Tappo owner Ar­mando Russo tells me he some­times for­gets which city he’s in. We could very well be in a pi­azza in his na­tive Cal­abria. In­side the stone walls, we feel like we’re din­ing in the wine cel­lar of a Span­ish cas­tle. “If a guy brings a first date here, she’s pretty im­pressed,” says Russo. Tappo means “cork” in Ital­ian. Wine pair­ing is an es­sen­tial part of the ex­pe­ri­ence here.

We be­gin with a seafood salad of mar­i­nated and grilled oc­to­pus, cala­mari and shrimp, and can taste ev­ery note of gar­lic, lemon and toasted almonds. Crisp-seared pork belly on a cros­tini with red wine re­duc­tion; ten­der pan-seared veal with mush­room-cream sauce; beef striploin with red wine and a horse­rad­ish aioli are all tan­ta­liz­ing dis­plays of the chef’s deft­ness in the kitchen, and each pair amorously with their wines. High doors open in sum­mer to let in the breeze for the early and late crowds that come here on a night out at the Soulpep­per the­atre. Cheese­cake is rich and volup­tuous, and the espresso proves that ev­ery last de­tail is tended.

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