The East Village is one of the most exciting neighborhoods in New York when it comes to good food. No matter what kind of cuisine strikes your fancy, it’s likely that such a restaurant exists in the area. For lovers of Italian food and wine, there’s a place on East 7th street that should be added to your list of East Village favorites. With to-die-for pasta dishes, quality wines, reasonable prices, and an effortlessly romantic atmosphere, Giano truly stands out among Italian restaurants in the area. There’s no need to break out your ball gown for this casual eatery, but you may consider wearing something loose-fitting as this is by no means the place for a light snack.
There are plenty of Italian restaurants that serve the whole gamut of Italian dishes, but there’s something to be said about sticking to a specialty. The rewards of this approach are evident at Giano, where the main focus of the menu is pasta.
When you think about your favorite pasta dish, the reason you love it probably has a lot to do with the sauce. At Giano, you will likely become a fan of the pasta itself.
The pastas are all made fresh every day, and when paired with rich, flavorful sauces, the result is nearly transcendent. The Bigoli al Ragu, once considered a poor man’s dish, tastes like food fit for a king after being revamped by Chef and Owner Matteo Niccoli. With slow-cooked lamb ragout and toasted walnut powder over incredibly tender, thick spaghetti, this dish seamlessly fuses hearty flavor with delicate texture. It is a culinary marriage of traditional concepts and contemporary accents that reflects the restaurant’s overall theme.
If you’re not up for a carb-fest, there are also a few non-pasta entrées on the menu, prepared with the same care and expertise as the pasta dishes. The filet mignon, served with basil mashed potatoes and a crispy pancetta and braised onion side, is nothing short of incredible. The meat, which is accompanied by a rich balsamic sauce, is tender and juicy. The pancetta and braised onion contribute bold flavor to the dish, and the basil mashed potatoes are wonderfully smooth. As Giano is also a wine bar, be sure to ask the charismatic Owner and Wine Director, Paolo Rossi, for the ideal wine pairing to your entrée.
Once you’ve committed to ruining whatever diet you might have been on, you might as well go for dessert. Giano’s signature “Cappuccino” bares little resemblance to the popular beverage. It is instead a complex, decadent blend of flavors, textures, and general happiness in a dessert cup. The creamy cappuccino gelato, wafer layer, and ricotta on top evoke a sensation of both coolness and warmth simultaneously.
Giano’s intimate atmosphere is generated in part by the spotlight effect from candles placed in small square spaces carved into the walls, and the heavy red ropes that separate the front bar from the back dining section.
Whether you come to Giano to enjoy wine and conversation in their beautiful garden in the summertime, or to self-medicate your wintertime blues with copious amounts of pasta, you’re in for a treat.
Giano is located at 126 East 7th Street, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A.