Though I love Chicago’s foodie scene, heading to New York always gets my foodie side excited. This trip was packed full of big events – a wedding, a 30th birthday and visiting family but there is always time for good food. That being said, I was hopeful to get brunch at Balthazar or dinner at Butter, but had to cancel both reservations. As much as I love food – I can’t pass up quality time with good friends and family.
On Saturday morning after the wedding and a few aspirin, I headed into Manhattan and got some delicious Ethiopian lunch at Queen of Sheba, did some walking around the city and cleaned up. Before the birthday festivities began that evening, Brian and I joined my Aunt Judy and Cousin Erin for some authentic northern Italian at Via Della Pace . It is my aunt’s gynecologist’s husband’s restaurant and a place we keep going back to… I know what you’re thinking why would you want to associate food with your OB-GYN, totally agree, so let’s move on.
Italian is not a cuisine I often seek out, though it’s not because I don’t like it. It’s because I’m purest. I studied abroad in Italy, living just a few blocks from the Vatican in Rome. My first gnocchi experience was in a tiny family run restaurant in Umbria and I still have vivid memories of each little pesto covered Gnocchi melting in my mouth. Fresh Mozzarella di Bufala, square thin crust pizzas with rosemary and potatoes and the infamous 24hr bakery with wonderful scents of just baked donuts, cannoli other beautiful desserts that we would stumble to on our way back from the bar at 4am. To me that is Italian. So when I have Italian here, it better be fantastic – and let me tell you this place is.
It is nestled off of 7th street in the East Village. There are only about 15 tables with a few outside. The interior is intimate, no too nosy with modest décor. Most of the staff is Italian and the menu and wine list is all very tempting and at a price that is ridiculously affordable for Manhattan (2008 white from Piedmont for $35 a bottle), though they only accept cash.
We shared their version of a caprese salad, some bruschette with their prosciutto di Parma and the warm egg plant. We all ended up getting pasta, I wanted to venture out but when I saw Gnocchi with Gorgonzola, radicchio and walnuts I couldn’t say no. For those of you who have made Gnocchi, you know it is no easy feat and even with 4hrs of work there is no guarantee the melt in your mouth consistency will be achieved, well this dish doesn’t disappoint. The best part was I literally could not have cleaned my plate any better unless I licked it and the waiter still politely asked if I was finished. Really – I don’t think you can go wrong here. However, when you look this place up, don’t be scared off by the out-dated website, the food is top notch and they’ll do take-out.