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Feb 5, 2011 03:54 PM

Gnocchi for lunch?

I've searched this board for the best gnocchi and, except for mia dona, the restaurants suggested are not open for lunch or their web sites do not show gnocchi on their lunch menus.

I'm taking my mother out to lunch for her 85th bday and gnocchi is her favorite food. So, where would you recommend? Price no object. Upscale ambience. Downtown to midtown OK.


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  1. I haven't tried any of these dishes, since I'm not a gnocchi fan, but here are a few options for lunch:


    - Marea - Gnocchetti with ruby red shrimp, controne bean puree, rosemary
    - Alto - Russet potato gnocchi, slow-cooked san marzano tomato ragu, basil
    - Ai Fiori - Saffron gnocchetti, crab, sea urchin


    - Osteria Morini - Ricotta gnocchi, pomodoro, spec, basil
    - Po - Gnocchi della Casa, lamb ragu, mint ricotta
    - Lupa - Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage & Fennel

    170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

    240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

    Osteria Morini
    218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

    Ai Fiori
    400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

    2 Replies
    1. re: peter j

      Gnocchetti are quite different from gnocchi.

      That said, Michael White's Gnocchi have been spot on each time I've tried them - as have Batali's. Del Posto also has Gnocchi on the menu - as does Lincoln.

      Del Posto
      85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

      1. re: uhockey

        I really enjoyed a lunch a couple months ago at Del Posto, but the gnocchi was my least favorite dish...fwiw.

        Del Posto
        85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

    2. Exciting suggestions, since I have been to and love Alto, Del Posto, Po and Lupa, and have been wanting to try Marea, Ai Fiori, Morini, and Lincoln. You've both given me a lot to look into. Thanks!

      5 Replies
      1. re: pace

        Imo, though I have yet to try his gnocchi, you can never go wrong with Michael White's pastas. We haven't been to Morini yet, but it's not as upscale as Marea or Ai Fiori. We've been to Marea twice and last Saturday, we had dinner at Ai Fiori. No question in my mind that I'd choose Ai Fiori over Marea for a special occasion meal. Service is much more polished and the ambiance more elegant.

        Ai Fiori photos:

        1. re: RGR

          The brunch menu at Morini simply looks "can't miss" to me. Will report back on that gnocchi in 2 weeks. :-)

          1. re: uhockey

            You should also try the "Morini" - two eggs, crispy mortadella, truffled creamed spinach. Amazing.

            1. re: Riverman500

              The whole menu looks incredible - I wonder if they'll allow half-orders of the pasta so I can try more. Unfortunately this'll be a meal I'm taking on my own.


              1. re: uhockey

                You should organize a Chowdown. Save room for dessert!

      2. From reading your suggestions, I'm debating between Ai Fiori and Osteria Morini. I know, two very different places in terms of ambience, but I'm sure my mother would like either.

        Looking at their on-line menus, they're gnocchi are also different. At Ai Fiori, it's gnochetti with shellfish and at Morini, it's ricotta gnocchi with tomato and speck. Since my mohter is a red sauce girl, I'm thinking Morini would be a safer bet. But, I've never had ricotta gnocchi.

        Can anyone tell me how they differ in taste from traditional potato gnocchi?

        13 Replies
        1. re: pace

          Ricotta Gnocchi merely puts cheese in with the potato - they are generally creamier.

          Gnochetti is generally semolina, not potato at all - just sort of similar shaped.

          1. re: uhockey

            Actually, often ricotta gnocchi doesn't include potato -- my first experience was using a Marcella Hazan recipe, where ricotta was mixed with flour (among other ingredients) as a binder.

            1. re: Nancy S.

              Fair point and quite true, much like the choux based Parisian Gnocchi contain no potato but a lot of butter and flour.

              The texture, however, is much closer to potato gnocchi than gnochetti are.


              1. re: uhockey

                Agreed. I love potato gnocchi, and I also am on a constant search for ethereal specimens. I like the ones at Hearth, but I love the ones at The Square in London.

              2. re: Nancy S.

                I second that ricotta gnocchi can be sans potato, and it's not uncommon to be mislabeled entirely and arrive as a gnudi.

            2. re: pace

              Ai Fiori is anything but a red sauce Italian type place. In fact, I would describe the cuisine there as very Frenchified Italian. Not that we don't like Italian (red sauce or otherwise), but French is our favorite cuisine, so that's one of the many reasons we liked Ai Fiori as much as we did.


              1. re: RGR

                Surprises me you've not yet gone to Lincoln, in that case - especially given Benno's previous experience.


                1. re: uhockey

                  When we were at Lincoln Center for the Brandenburgs in December, surprisingly, we could easily have gotten reservations at Lincoln. However, given the mixed reviews up to that point, we decided against. I don't recall reading that the food Benno is serving is Frenchified Italian, but maybe I missed that.

                  We always see several ballets at ABT, so that's when we'll probably try it. In fact, our daughter's birthday is in June and she's suggested the four of us get tickets for a matinee on the day of and have lunch at Lincoln. Sounds like a plan.

                  In any case, I'm looking forward to *your* *in-person* review. :) (But even more so, Compose.)


                  1. re: RGR

                    Well - they'll be happening on back to back nights before lunch at EMP, so you'll get the scoop even before Chowhound.

                    I think the descriptions of Benno's cuisine sounds very much like those of Vetri, which IMO is about as French-leaning as Italian can get.


                    1. re: uhockey

                      Benno's cuisine at Lincoln is more rustic than Vetri, though still decidedly rich.

                      Lincoln is somewhere between Alto and Ai Fiori in the Italian-French spectrum.

                      Ai Fiori
                      400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

                      1. re: uhockey

                        We had the pleasure of sharing *two* dinners at Vetri with u.e. during one extended weekend in Philly. Fabulous! Fabulous! But I don't remember thinking that it was French-leaning though you could very well be right.

                        I've never taken a good look at Lincoln's menu before, so I just did so. It reads very Italian to me and, frankly, there isn't all that much that holds any appeal for me. I hope that will change with his spring and summer menus.


                        1. re: RGR

                          'tis interesing you didn't find it French leaning as UE noted it to be quite so in his review.

                          Lincoln's menu changes daily which makes it difficult to assess how it will be on my visit, but I anticipate well. I'm going for the pastas - I really could care less for the secondi at any/all Italian spots. :-)

                          The meal Benno crafted for me on the spot at Per Se - all 26 courses of it - gives me enough reason to trust what he is doing at Lincoln.


                          Per Se
                          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                          1. re: uhockey

                            Well, if u.e. described Vetri's cuisine that way, then it's definitely so. I never contradict the master! :)

                            Many times, we skip over the pasta course. But when we do have it in upscale Italian restaurants, we split one so that we can leave room for a secundi. Neither of us ever has a full portion of pasta as a main course. However, when we go to casual red sauce Italian-American restaurants, sometimes we each get things like lasagne or eggplant parmigiano as a main.


              2. Not exactly fine dining, but i Tre Merli in SoHo (or the one in the West Village). Great gnocchi in pesto for $13.

                1. You've made ricotta gnocchi sound irrestistable, regardless of its sauce or frenchiness level.

                  Now, can I switch tracks here and ask if you have suggestions for a great eggplant parmesan place. Not much on this board on the topic. Prefer the eggplant to be baked, rather than fried. OK, even if it's only offered as a side. Downtown preferred, but will travel for great eggplant parm!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pace

                    Lincoln offers a delicious eggplant parm as a side dish.

                    Patsy's in Harlem also makes a great, non-greasy eggplant parm.