Pint-sized Italian action

The tiniest operations can produce astonishing quality -- at maybe 6 feet, Ben Gordon's one of the best one-on-one scorers in the NBA, and when it comes to the power of Christ, nobody even steps to Vatican City. For expert Italian in seriously intimate surrounds, hit Piccola Cucina

A Sicilian-born chef's NY debut, Cucina's an almost-too-cozy, softly lit date-aurant elegantly tarted up with mirrored wall panels, cream-colored wainscoting, marble two tops, and a tiny four-seat bar set so close to the tables, it's practically begging you to listen to the conversations of people whose date is the bottle. The fare's subtly inventive, starting with small-meats antipasti (veal in tuna sauce, grilled squid with broccoli puree and squid ink...), easing into pasta-centric primi (asparagus and marjoram lasagna, shrimp and ricotta ravioli...), and finishing with even-more-meats secondi, including olive crusted lamb with sauteed spinach, broiled branzino with grape tomatoes, and filet mignon napoleon -- two tender medallions sure to sate even the ziggiest of ziggy pigs. Drink-yourself-through-this-wise, Cucina rocks a full bar, plus all-Ital vino, champagne, and one beer, Moretti, the "most desired beer in Italy" -- anywhere you see it, mopeds are in hot pursuit

Despite their size, Cucina's starting off serving both dinner and lunch, a smaller meal that nonetheless can overwhelm the sacistry of your belly.