This unpretentious, cash-only Upper West Side spot is perfect for last minute pasta cravings (easy walk-ins) and serves up meals that are Italian grandmother-approved. The second claim is upheld by the fact that Andrew’s Italian grandma first took him there 14 years ago, and it became a sweet ongoing dinner treat to her grandson.
We started off with the sea bass crudo, which came beautifully plated in an array of colors. This had the “softest” flavors that balanced out the rest of our boldly flavored dishes.
Then it was onto the calamari. I had left it up to Andrew to decide between the octopus salad and the calamari. I’m going to be honest. I didn’t even carefully read the description of the calamari preparation because I assumed it was the usual fried calamari with marinara sauce that I find so boring. Upon seeing the grilled calamari on a bed of Sicilian couscous, I perked up. The texture of the calamari was on point, and the couscous had these lovely sweet and spicy notes. I was proven wrong! I would definitely order this again.
Andrew raved about the Eggplant Rigatoni, but I was set on getting some meat in my pasta. I asked our waiter Miguel to tell us his favorite pasta on the menu. He declared the veal ravioli as the winner, and that was also the one I was eyeing. Although I immensely enjoyed everything we ordered, this ravioli was the highlight for me. The tomato-cream sauce was heavenly, and the pancetta had this wonderful smoky flavor. My mouth is watering thinking about it right now.
By the time the mussels arrived to our table, I was already full. But we kept trucking. (We rarely take home leftovers. Because we are food-shoveling beasts who don’t understand portion control.) I am used to mussels coming out in a clear white wine broth. These mussels were hanging out in a thicker tomato-saffron sauce on top of Sicilian couscous with raisins (similar to the calamari) and pine nuts. Oh yeeeeeah.
We finished the meal with one of their specials: sauteed baby lamb chops with spinach and mashed potatoes. YOU GUYS. The meat was so tender and succulent. And the taste…divine. They plated this dish and the ravioli separately for us to enjoy. I think they adjust the amount for sharing and then charge you accordingly. For example, the lamb chops were supposed to come out with 3 to a plate, but we ended up with two each.
I loved this meal so much, and my birthday is coming up. So I think I managed to squeeze out another Gennaro date in the near future. Yesssss to celebrations and gifts for doing nothing but being created and coming out of the womb. 😉