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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tender Steak to Die For at Angelicos

"Dine in heaven" read the flyers designed to entice Muscovites to eat at one of the city's newest restaurants, Angelicos.

While a recent visit didn't quite take us to heaven, there were moments when we certainly felt within spitting distance. Like when the attentive, bilingual waiter brought us a free basket of warm walnut rolls and slices of whole-grain bread along with three different kinds of herbal butter, then brought another portion after we'd hastily devoured the first, and finally, didn't bat an eyebrow when we asked for a doggie bag for the uneaten remains.

Then there was the short-lived experience of eating a Rib Eye Steak with Herb Butter ($28) so thin and succulent that it set a new standard of tenderness. Or the imbibing of the wonderfully large, fresh portion of Tiramisu ($9) that easily outshone its counterparts at Moscow restaurants boasting an exclusively Italian cuisine.

Angelicos, a self-described "Mediterranean restaurant" that was opened in mid-December by the former managers of the Metropol's Teatro, is a place to come for not only the expertly prepared food but also for a chance to be transported beyond the bounds of casual dining and into the realm of excellent eating.

Angelicos' two rooms are spacious, adorned with contemporary Russian art and crowned with back-lit ceiling murals. Little here would be out of place in Los Angeles, right down to the contemporary works by across-dressing Russian artist whose resume« -- found in the menu -- boasts an exhibition in a Santa Monica gallery.

After the arrival of the bottomless bread basket and multi-flavored butter, your visit is likely to start with a foray through the wine list, whose 45 entries range from a bottle of 1987 Bordeaux priced at $1,280 to a half glass of disappointing Georges du Boeuf Fleurie for $7. A half glass of Chianti ($4) is a better bet. The Italian wines are reasonably priced and the 1990 Rioja Spanish Red is a good value at $41.

Among the starters, the Cream of Mussel with Pernod soup ($8) was a standout with its enticing mixture of some 10 whole mussels, shredded onions and carrots, all tempered by a buttery cream. The Baked Onion soup ($6.50) didn't suffer from the over-saltiness that often afflicts such soups but could have used a bit more cheese. The Plato Mediterraneo ($12 for a whole plate; $8.50 for half) was a tempura-like selection of eggplants, squash, onions and peppers, some marinated, some fried, and all covered with a light yoghurt dressing. Salads on the menu include a green salad ($8) on one end of the price spectrum and the Marisco seafood salad ($18) on the other.

Of the seven spaghetti dishes ranging from $9 to $38, my dining companion, a longtime acquaintance who once studied Italian, ate the Spaghetti ai [sic] Funghi ($11) and pronounced it good with a "delightfully light cream sauce."

As mentioned earlier, the Rib Eye Steak, served with a buttery baked potato and vegetable mixture, was superb, but perhaps this reviewer's taste buds were skewed by a recent extended and beefless holiday in a predominantly Hindu nation. There was, however, no doubt about the tastiness of the large, inch-thick Salmon Steak ($18), which arrived broiled, lightly spiced, atop brightly colored vegetables and flanked by rice and a jaggedly cut lemon. Other entrees include the Grilled Pork Fillet ($20), the Marinated Lamb Chops Proven?ale ($25) and at the top end, the Mediterranean Seafood Special ($42).

Aside from the Tiramisu, the dessert menu includes Fresh Figs in Port ($11), Bananas/Dates with cream and rosewater ($8) and, unusual for Moscow, Assorted Cheeses ($15).

As it opened fairly recently, now is a good time to visit Angelicos. On a recent Saturday night it was not at all crowded, making it all the more celestial. Indeed, it was entirely devoid of the cellular-phone wielding, chain-smoking fiends who can make the most heaven-like restaurant into a dining hell.

Angelicos is located at 6 Bolshoi Karetny Pereulok and is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until 2 a.m. Rubles and most major credit cards are accepted. For reservations call 299-3696. Nearest metro: Tsvetnoi Bulvar.