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For the first nine months of its existence, La Pietra Cucina was a literal boîte—a box of a restaurant—squashed into a back room of the deserted space in the Pershing Point office building where MidCity Cuisine played out its few coquettish years. The setup, in one of MidCity’s old dining rooms, was meant to be a short-term starting point for La Pietra Cucina while the entire space underwent renovation. At first, the taped-up signs that announced the Italian newcomer were vague, leading customers to walk through the graveyard of MidCity’s dining room, past once-jolly striped banquettes and an abandoned bar, toward a beckoning light at the far end of the expanse. It felt both disorienting and juicily clandestine.