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Once a no man's land of bodegas and auto mechanics, Kenmare Street is now a haven for high-end establishments.

The newest kid on the block is Ellabess, a homey eatery with an elevated ambiance that occupies an airy space at the recently opened Nolitan Hotel.

An enchanting atmosphere of dimly lit orange globes and simple wooden tables channel Tuscany, while floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the spectacle of the Lower East Side.

Currently serving dinner only, Ellabess's menu is a mix of equally pleasing central-Italian fare and down-home American staples. The house-made tagliatelle with decadent chicken ragu ($18) makes a savory, summery meal coupled with the warm, ricotta-and-vegetable salad ($12). Meanwhile, Southern fried chicken ($22) and shrimp and grits ($24) get superb re-interpretations with charred watermelon and spiced heirloom tomatoes.

Offerings change seasonally, so before summer's end, sample the sweet, chilled corn soup ($10), the refreshing, meant-for-sharing Peekytoe crab salad ($14) and an unbelievable peach-cobbler sundae served in a warm piecrust ($8).

Paired with a glass of citrusy Channing Daughters Sauvignon Blanc ($40 a bottle), meals at Ellabess are a testament to its burgeoning neighborhood--rooted and exciting all at once.

Ellabess, 30 Kenmare St. (at Elizabeth St.); 212-925-5559 or

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