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If you hear Italian accents surrounding you at Gradisca, it’s not just the waitstaff. This rustically charming Greenwich Village eatery is popular with many Europeans – and rightfully so. Owner Massimo Gateano and chef Matteo Boglione are committed to the European way of cooking, emphasizing delicacy, flavor, great ingredients and beautiful presentation -- virtues not always practiced here in America.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
Boglione’s careful hand can be seen in the special touches he gives to all the appetizers, such as beautifully wrapping the finest prosciutto over sublime imported buffalo mozzarella and then gilding the lily with a dab of truffle oil, or topping a superb filet mignon carpaccio with seared Chanterelle mushrooms and excellent pecorino Toscana. His tuna tartare is equally unusual, gaining added depth from lime zest and balsamic vinegar. So is his take on polenta with wild mushrooms; the cornmeal is served in a gently fried square, its interior beautifully creamy, while the mushrooms rest nearby on the plate, and the whole dish is napped in a parmegiano sauce. Frankly, I could happily make a meal just from the starters.
But then I’d miss the pastas, which include delightfully light malfatti – bite-sized ricotta and spinach dumplings – set in a pool of a sweet Gorgonzola sauce that has just a hint of dry vermouth. Owner Massimo’s mama, Caterina, personally makes two pasta dishes: ravioli filled with ethereal buffalo ricotta and herbs in a butter and sage sauce, and tortelli filled with butternut squash, Amaretti biscuits and parmesan, topped by a slice of black truffle. Both are rich, satisfying treats. (Both dishes were also served really al dente.) Entrée selections are somewhat more limited, but fish fanciers will be decidedly pleased by nicely prepared Branzino, accompanied by a mouthfilling pistachio and fava bean puree.
Desserts get a homemade touch too, especially the warm bread pudding topped with a delectable almond gelato made by Massimo himself, or the pitcher of vanilla-infused cream that comes beside an intense warm flourless chocolate cake. If fruit is your thing, I guess you can eat the apple that sits on every table. It’s just one more nice touch at Gradisca.
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
Entree Price: $20-25
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