upper east side hidden italian surprise
went exploring the other day with my girlfriend looking
for somewhere new to eat in the neighborhood and
stumbled upon a great little italian place on 84th b/w
1st and 2nd (right off the corner of 1st). there's no
name on the place, just wood paneling on the outside
with a door and frosted windows on top so there's light
emanating from within. we weren't even sure it was a
restaurant until we walked in.
it's a tiny place, maybe the size of a midsized studio
apartment, but it's clean and new and simple, the wood
paneling is nice and there's a huge mirror that makes
up the back wall to add the appearance of space.
it turns out the place is called giorgio's trattoria,
and it's aptly named as giorgio is all at once the
maitre'd, waiter, chef and waterboy. he's a charming
man, very italian and not afraid to speak his mind (or
maybe that's part of being very italian so i'm being
didn't get a chance to check out the wine list so i
can't comment on that, but the food was excellent. we
started with an appetizer of prosciutto with homemade
mozzarella and tomato. simply one of the best
renditions of the dish i've ever had. fresh, blood red
ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced flavorful and not too
salty prosciutto, and the homemade mozzarella was
wonderful, slightly sweet, great texture, i let it sit
in my mouth for a while after every bite so i could
soak in all that flavor. exquisite.
giorgio must have invented the term al dente because
his pasta is perfectly cooked that way. chewy but not
too hard, just the right amount of give. i kept eating
just so i could keep chewing, kinda like when you don't
spit out gum even after the flavor is gone but just
because it's a habit and your mouth is used to it.
i got the penne alla vodka which was surprisingly spicy
though i think could have been wetter. my girlfriend
had the linguine with pesto. i liked her pesto better
than my alla vodka, she liked mine better than hers.
let me tell you, i'm not a big fan of pesto, but i
certainly like giorgio's version. and don't tell
giorgio you don't want fresh crushed pepper or fresh
parmesan cheese on your pasta because he won't listen.
as he says, "trust me, i know" and he'll proceed to
put on as much as he sees fit.
we skipped dessert but both had some really good
capuccino. don't even ask for coffee (did i mention
giorgio is very italian?) espresso and capuccino only.
it seems most of the folks there are regulars as they
all call giorgio by name and find the time to joke
around with him.
i guess the only drawback is that there's a bit of a
lag since giorgio does everything by himself, but the
wait's not unbearable and it's certainly worth it. oh
yeah, and bring cash, since giorgio don't take credit
re: Mara G.
i recall it being pretty reasonable. definitely not
cheap, but certainly not too expensive either. it's
probably in the high single digits for appetizers, and
mid teens for pastas, and meat and fish entrees in the
low 20s. basically your typical neighborhood italian
prices but not a bargain hunter's paradise.