| 13 Aug 2014 | 01:40

    When pondering where to find a good very-late-night meal, the Upper East Side doesn?t exactly spring to mind. But Opus, which just opened in September, serves lunch, brunch, dinner and ultra-late dinner every day from 11 a.m. until 5 a.m. The current Zagat restaurant guide lists only about a dozen places that are open that late, and not one is Uptown. But Opus? meals?classic dishes from all over Italy?are undoubtedly the best available fare in town after midnight. The 70-seat dining room is modern and quite comfortable, with high ceilings, quarry tile floors and clothed tables. We were there on a Friday night, and the room was filled with people who were obviously regulars. The gleaming mahogany bar seats 10 more, and makes over 25 specialty cocktails, more than half featuring vodka in one form or another. The wine list is grown-up, with more than a dozen mostly Italian wines available by the glass. We sampled an American Sauvignon Blanc (Napa, 2007) which achieved a clever balance between sense and sensual, with lovely forward earth elements. Executive chef and owner Giuseppe Lentini was executive chef for 17 years at the nearby Elio?s, then he manned the stoves at another Upper East Sider, Tini?s, which Lentini owned with his brother. In an unusual move, 95 percent of the Opus menu can be prepared completely without gluten, including the full array of pastas, for those with wheat allergies. Pinky fat Atlantic Ocean top neck clams make a sweet and briny opener. Crab cakes are unusually light and lemony. An accompanying mustard sauce is lovely, but not at all necessary. Margherita pizza is searingly hot right out of the oven, with a medium-thin crust, gentle slightly sweet marinara sauce and just enough fresh mozzarella. Penne with shredded rabbit meat in a light tomato gravy is a hefty pasta course, while bucatini with fresh sardines, raisins and pine nuts is tossed with toasted bread crumbs and diced fresh tomatoes. This classic Sicilian dish is unafraid to taste nice and fishy. Thick and luscious roasted branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) is also given a Sicilian treatment, rich with light brown olives, halved tomatoes and basil chiffonade. Veal scallops are pounded to 1/8-inch thickness, then lightly egg-breaded and sautéed, and finally engulfed with gorgonzola, parmigiano reggiano and a buttery tomato sauce. Chilled rich and eggy zabaglione arrives studded with sliced strawberries and blueberries in a martini glass. Crusty and flaky cannoli tubes are freshly filled with wiggly custard cream. There is an unusually good array of ports, cognacs and grappas available. A snappy grappa ?Cru Nonino Verduzzo? is served in a tall and very narrow flute glass to promote careful and slow sipping. Judging from the crowds who have discovered the place, Opus is noticeably welcome in an area not especially rich in terrific restaurants. -- Opus 1574 Second Ave. Near 82nd Street 212-772-2220 Entrées: $15 to $35 -- [tom@hugeflavors.com](mailto: tom@hugeflavors.com)[ ](mailto: tom@hugeflavors.com)