Hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache and salted caramel (Image: Natalie Poette)

The headline may be a tad overoptimistic about the return to normalcy, but it is clearly the case that New York has turned a corner. Infection levels continue to drop precipitously, and what once seemed impossible — that the city’s formerly vibrant restaurant life would return — is a reality. Even the prediction that new restaurants would not open in the wake of the pandemic is being put to the test, as two new additions to the Italian restaurant scene emerged.

Steps from the Barclays Center and BAM in Fort Greene, two-month-old Loreto Italian Kitchen & Bar spotlights authentic Italian favorites such as buttuta di manzo (aka steak tartare), roasted branzino with grilled lemon, watercress, and an herby salsa verde, and Neopolitan-style pizzas. Don’t miss dessert, which includes cheesecake “pudding,” a light no-bake cheesecake with fresh fruit purée and a shard of hard meringue, and torta al cioccolato, a chocolate hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache and salted caramel. The executive chef, Pietro Aletto, trained under New York luminaries, including Christina Tosi, Jonathan Benno, and Andrew Carmellini. Loreto Italian Kitchen & Bar, 280 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, 718-554-1121, is open for dinner Sunday through Saturday and brunch on weekends.

On-the-bone 45-day dry-aged bistecca for two (Image: Puttanesca)

Puttanesca, in Chelsea, advertises itself as an old-world trattoria, and indeed you can order the signature pasta preparation that lends the establishment its name — here done with penne dressed with anchovy, capers, olives, and tomato. But there is a strong steakhouse vibe to the menu, which includes a raw bar section and a preponderance of red meat dishes. Carpaccio, listed among the starters, is made with Wagyu beef, and an on-the-bone 45-day dry-aged bistecca for two has its own special place of honor on the menu. The executive chef, David DiSalvo, formerly oversaw the kitchen at STK NYC Downtown, which may explain much. Puttanesca, 202 Eighth Avenue at 20th Street, 646-692-4123, is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner only.