Grano- new on 36th street in Hampden
I 've noticed Grano at 36th and Hickory for the past few weeks but haven't had the chance to stop in except to get a menu a few days ago. The first thing I noticed was the "billboard" visible through the window which consisted of a pyramid of San Marzano canned tomatoes on the restaurant counter, a bowl of Italian plum tomatoes and some EVO. The menu consists 6 or 7 pastas with 6 or seven sauces from 6.99 to 9.99, meatballs 1.99, bread 1.99, salad 4.99, soup about the same. About 10 seats total. Most seats at the counter in view of the grill and gas burners. Sauces including bolognese, carbonara, pommodoro, and gorgonzola with walnuts. Everything is also available to carryout.
We picked the "special" of liguini with scampi ($14) and the bowties with puttanesca sauce ($7.99). We brought our own wine- a shiraz cabernet that I thought was slightly like a Dolcetto that we had recently.
Both dishes were excellent with plenty of garlic in the sauce with the shrimp (maybe 8 or so peeled). Our favorite was the puttenesca with olives and capers. Small to medium portions but filling.
Pasta was al dente and I noticed bagged portions of different pastas stored near the cooking surfaces. I asked the owner whether he was spanish or Italian since I overheard him speaking spanish to a customer. He said he was Italian and has had restaurants in various locations around town including Boston Street.
I asked him how he developed the idea of a small manageable place that could be handled by a person at the counter and a cook. He briefly reviewed his experience and his desire to develop a concept that does not require the expense of a full blown restaurant and kitchen. He said he hopes to open another locaton near Trinacria (!) and then possibly to expand to other locations.
I look forward to returning and trying other combinatons of pasta and sauces.
My husband and I got carryout from Grano this week. Although I wouldn't say it's the best pasta I've ever had, it was certainly tasty and of good quality. I had the pesto, really fresh. My husband had the gorgonzola walnut. One intriguing thing--you can buy the sauce alone, packed for home, which I will probably try soon.
The owner certainly seems to have a good attitude--a sign in the window said "Pasta Cook wanted, must speak English, be happy, and smile often." I'm happy it's in the neighborhood! I hope they will do well--Hampdenites, I hope you'll support them!