If a restaurant has lasted thirteen years in New York City, then you know they must be doing something right. Gradisca Ristorante does just that, magically tucked away on a quaint street in the West Village. The restaurant is very charming, with brick walls, vintage benches, a wooden bar, and even outdoor seating. The walls are adorned with posters from the restaurant’s days as a cabaret and jazz club back in the ’70s. Owner Massimo Galeano (also of Mo Gelato) opened the authentic Italian restaurant that dishes out classics inspired by his mother.
Once you settle in, be prepared for some delicious, homemade Italiano comfort food. We started with the fabulous tuna tartar ($16), which is made with yellowfin tuna and has a balsamic shallot compote. For someone who does not even like tartar, I must say I really enjoyed it. It tasted fresh and delicious. We also had the beef carpaccio ($17), made with wagyu beef and summer black truffle cream sauce, which made for a stunning appetizer.
Next, we tried a secret pasta dish, Tortellini del Dito Mignolo in Panna, which is not found on the menu, but is frequently ordered by regulars and those who know it exists. Mama’s hand-crafted meat tortellini comes in a light cream sauce and is a real stand-out. You can tell the pasta is made right in shop and uses fresh ingredients. Don’t forget to try it out next time you stop in. We also tried the Ravioli di Ricotta e Limone con Mandorle, Gamberetti e Melanzana ($25), which consisted of buffalo ricotta lemon ravioli, topped with almonds, shrimp and eggplant. The shrimp practically melted in your mouth and the almonds added a nice crunch to the dish. Each pasta was tasty in its own way — we are just sad we couldn’t try them all. They also offer a fine selection of meats and fish.
Their extensive wine menu, comprised of 130 different wines, all from Italy, takes its inspiration from the menu. The wine list varies from season to season, and the staff is well versed in all of them, ready to make wine pairing recommendations in a flash. Gradisca also offers seasonal cocktails made with fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. Right now, they are offering perfectly refreshing cocktails for the hot summer, including Summer Smash (Barsol pisco, peach puree, thyme syrup, lime) and Take Your Time (Stoli Vodka, pureed watermelon, lemon, rhubarb syrup), both $15.
Move on to dessert if you dare. Options include Tiramisu, Panna Cotta, and Semifreddo with honey-nut brittle and hazelnut sauce ($10). Of course, Gradisca also offers gelato, which can also be found at the owner’s gelateria, Mo Gelato. Manhattan with a Twist reviewed this shop recently and came to the conclusion that it’s the best gelato ever, so we were excited to find it on the menu and quickly gobbled it up.
Gradisca Ristorante also houses a back room that can accomodate private parties up to 75 for dinner, more for cocktails and has the same warm atmosphere as the main dining room. It is absolutely charmant! This restaurant really know how to entice customers with their first class Italian cuisine, cozy atmosphere (perfect for a date night), and welcoming servers. As they say in Italy, mangia bene!
Gradisca Ristorante is located at 126 West 13th Street.
Image via Revel in NY.