Marisa Paolillo, the chef-partner at Mango Pickle, burns through ideas so quickly that a seasonal menu doesn’t seem adequate. While you’re proclaiming your love for her fork-tender pork shoulder vindaloo with tapioca pappadams or her chicken tikka wings flavored with Kashmiri chilies, Paolillo is already plotting her next project. (She’s currently working on a series of Indian fruit and vegetable preserves paired with alternative-grain breads.) In a cozy storefront lovingly decorated with strings of kaleidoscopic lights and sari tapestries, she reimagines familiar Indian dishes as farm-to-table playthings, resulting in offerings such as a stew-like beef shank nihari in black cardamom sauce over cilantro-flecked mashed potatoes. Every other Wednesday, Paolillo butchers a whole Slagel Family Farm lamb so she can serve it in different ways that week—say, ground and spiced for kebabs or nestled on homemade naan as sliders. By freeing herself from the burden of rigid authenticity in her cooking, Paolillo has created an exuberant homage to Indian food, one that allows her to push it to flavorful, fertile new ground.
Don’t miss:Even humble butter chicken ($18) gets lavish treatment, with a cinnamon-tinged garam masala and oven-dried tomatoes.