Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Giano Restaurant & Wine Bar is a Gem in the East Village

An East Village gem, Giano Restaurant & Wine Bar blends "innovation and tradition" with its uniquely home-style Italian fare. Enter into the sophisticated, warmly lit restaurant, and the charming staff will make you feel like you're family. Don't be put off if your waiter caresses your shoulder while taking your order... It's not a cheap come on, but rather a further example that customers at Giano are more like comrades than mere consumers. 
Interior of Giano Restaurant & Wine Bar
photo by Heather K.

Lasagna Bolognese
photo by Heather K.
For the hip foodies out there, Giano certainly offers some innovative menu items, such as last week's appetizer special - grilled asparagus wrapped in speck and covered with baked cheese. For those who come for the tradition, the menu is rich in Italian pasta entrees, made in house daily. There's the "gnocchi ai 4 formaggi" (four-cheese gnocchi), which the waiter can enthusiastically tell you "disappears in your mouth," or the Northern-Italian style "lasagna bolognese," prepared with only grass fed beef, and served with a heavenly Béchamel.
Rigatoni Con Fave e Pancetta
photo by Meredith Verona
For that innovation/tradition blend, there's the "Rigatoni con fave e pancetta." Made with fava beans, pancetta, white wine and ricotta salata, but devoid of thick sauces, this dish tastes so light and healthy, you'll forget you're consuming a pasta dish. Though the pastas are filling and certainly enough to constitute a meal, if you prefer a meat or fish dish, there are also a handful of creative offerings that feature chicken, lamb, salmon, and cod.
Giano strives to use local and organic ingredients in many of its distinctive dishes. Although also a winebar, the focus on Giano is clearly the food. Somewhat surprisingly considering the ambiance and quality that Giano offers, entrees are reasonably priced, with most pasta dishes around or below $15, and other entrees $18-23. With a voucher for $15 off, WGINY and a dining companion were able to enjoy two glasses of wine, two entrees and a dessert for under $50 before tip. 

Speaking of dessert, there's no official dessert menu, just two simple options - "French or Italian?". Despite a brazen plug by the waiter for "one of the top 5 tiramisu you've ever had," we choose the other dessert option, a creme brulee, which somehow came out both cold and burnt. Nevertheless, given how palatable the rest of our meal was, this has only convinced me that I need to return to Giano to try the tiramisu.

Giano is located at 126 East 7th Street, between 1st Avenue and A, and offers specialty menus for parties, prix-fix and brunch. 


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