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Giovanni Rana

Any musts?

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  1. Scroll towards the end for an interesting discussion on this place:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878633

    1. We walked in the other day just to look at the place and they were charging for "samples" of a few fried antipasti. I found this odd and offputting. How is it a sample if you pay for it? And yes, the were clearly marked sample.

      1. I personally really liked the ravioli di zucca and the ravioli al brasato.

        Get "il tagliere" as a starter and the tiramisu for dessert (one of the best I had in Manhattan).

        1 Reply
        1. re: alepenazzi

          Alepenazzi: I'll have to go back since you love the cooking so much. I don't recall the Italian names for what I had, and menu pages has totally different menu from what they were serving tonite.
          Started with crispy bread and bacalao. It was good with a nice amount of the codfish ( kind of like how white fish salad is made at Russ and Daughters, slightly smokey).
          The barrata salad was very good.
          The "rigatoni" not sure if they called it that, in a red sauce with a good amount of lobster. The pasta was excellent and homemade. The sauce didn't really taste of the lobster but had a sweet pleasant taste to it. The lobster was a bit overcooked and was at times difficult to get out of the shell. Especially hot pieces with sauce all over them and no lobster fork just a nut cracker.
          The Sicilian style pasta ( looked like fettuccini) also homemade and cooked very well. was served with fish, capers, lemon, and breadcrumbs. It was an OK preparation but could've have used some more flavor. maybe some sardines would have helped or anchovies. I added a touch of the lobster red sauce and it helped it out , IMO. The chef would probably have cringed. The wines by the glass were very drinkable. The service was excellent. The decor was excellent.
          I didn't get dessert because Arte del Gelato (sp) in Chelsea Market was seeming like where I should go for some gelato dessert.
          I will go back and try the ravioli, the lasagna, the squid ink pasta, and the tiramisu

        2. Thanks alepenazzi! had dinner there earlier before your post and now must go back to try the tiramisu and the rest of them.
          Tried one from your list -ravioli al brasato. Very good. I enjoyed it although I felt wanting more of the cabbage and chestnuts especially the cabbage.

          Ricotta Spinach Girasole. - Absolutely delicious. My major foodies companions (daughters 10, 12) favorite of the bunch. Comes with more chunks of creamy ricotta, all inside this baked parmigiano crisp

          Lobster Mezzaluna - Good! not maine lobster from the next door neighbor lobster place but satisfying nonetheless. The best part of the dish was the Chanterelle mushrooms. One of those rare moment that I count my blessings for marrying a mushroom hater (hate transferred to the kids)

          Cappelletti - the star for me. Even with the odd side of prosciutto on toast. I believe its prsciutto, bread crumbs and herbs packed in those Cappelletti. Each one bursting with flavor. Well done!

          Service with plenty of hiccups as they only open for a few months. The place feels like mini Eataly with all the tourists, products and cafeteria like setting. Still, an enjoyable meal.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Ziggy41

            I'm glad you enjoyed it, Giovanni Rana is from my hometown, I've been eating his pastas and in his eateries since I was young and I really felt a little bit of "home" in Chelsea Market when I went there.

            By the way did you know that the cappelletti (and tortellini, which are basically the same thing but from a northern area) are a traditional Christmas dish in many regions of Italy?
            We usually cook and serve them in a capon broth/consommè (more traditional) or, in a more "modern" way, with some butter and sage!

            They are most eaten in emilia romagna and veneto, the more north you go among those two regions the more you will find meat and prosciutto on the inside, the more you go south (romagna) the more they will be filled with ricotta and other cheeses.

            1. re: alepenazzi

              Good to know alepenazzi. I presume the hometown is Verona? On the way to the restaurant I started telling the kids about mommys and daddys adventures in Verona and I didn't get too far with my youngest interrupting "Ahhm dad, we were there too, remember?" Oh ye!! Perhaps the slip was due to my fondest memories being the donkey ravioli with truffles at osteria da ugo, or the what we dubbed as "the meal" at Enoteca Valpolicella in Fumane. Cant wait to get back there and the Lago Di Garda area.

              BTW, there's a nice video of Rana talking about his past on
              http://www.giovannirana.com/
              Scroll through the first few pictures to see it

              1. re: Ziggy41

                Ahah, I never saw that video! I've been to that house on the garda lake a few times, it's amazing, right next to punta san vigilio, between garda and torri del benaco.
                (by the way at punta san vigilio there's an amazing restaurant, right on the lake, if you'll ever pass by)

                Thanks!

                1. re: alepenazzi

                  We stopped by torri del benaco for a few hours on our road trip and spent a few nights at Malcesine. What a stunning area. For such a touristy (germans) area we surprisingly had an amazing meal in Riva del garda. Best Lasagne I ever had.
                  I live in NYC but my favorite Italian restaurant in the world and where I frequent the most is actually in the Caribbean. Its chef is from a village somewhere in that area between Malcesine and Riva. A very special talent

          2. Adding to this short discussion on Rana at Chelsea Market:

            I went with a group of six to Rana for dinner about two weeks back. It was a mess. From the food to the service. First the food: the menu is relatively small. And that's fine. But, the principal ingredient in most every dish is butter, topped with butter. Then cheese, and some more butter. Yes, its a northern italian restaurant but we've been to that region and eat northern italian regularly. We cook it at home. Never have we been so assaulted with such one note dishes. The only dish we actually thought "very good" was the bolgonese, and even there we had dissenters at our table. One salad, a smallish plate of a few dreary leafy greens and sliced carrots, was topped with a few fried ravioli. We mistakenly ordered it after our waitress discussed how it was "superb." Its the kind of dish where you wonder, in retrospect: who thought up this monstrosity. The app of small artichokes, 4 small artichoke hearts filled with breadcrumbs and cheese was non-descript, with little taste. The fritto misto was just fine, nothing more, though very heavy on the breading.

            Service was all over the place. One waiter would not leave the area of our table, swooping in near every two minutes to clear a plate when the diner had put his/her knife and fork down, though not finished eating and with food still on the plate. After about five of these "swoops" I finally asked him to pls not return to our table until we called him. Our principal waitress took our order then disappeared until the main dishes were set down. She reappeared again only to bring the check. Tables are tiny. We found it near impossible to sit comfortably and cross your legs. The bread and olive oil placed on the table is good. The restaurant loud.

            When one of the managers saw how many of us had not finished our dishes, and how obviously displeased we were, he asked what was the matter. I spoke with him for a few minutes and he was apologetic, asking us to return and give the place another try. While I rarely post a negative review here, I thought our experience called for one. Perhaps we are lone voices in the wind and the feedback on Rana will be overwhelmingly positive. If so, that is fine. But for us -- our meal was a mess.

            2 Replies
            1. re: comiendosiempre

              I appreciate your posting. I'm one who really dislikes merely butter-tasting meals, so even without service mishaps, I would not want to go to a place like that for a meal, unless your experience is a one-off fluke.

              1. re: comiendosiempre

                That's such a pity.. I had a great meal there the first week they opened, and definitely no butter everywhere..

                I'll go back this week to see what changed..

                Was the butter so intense in the cappelletti?

              2. I did not have the capelleti so can't speak to it, though the feedback from everyone at our table was uniform. Even the gnocchi with seafood (I think it was gnocchi) was more rich than seafood. The taste I had of it was not impressive. The pasta with lobster had that same buttery approach.

                We were surprised by the restaurant and our experience. The kitchen is glass-waled and open and packed with various chefs, all busy and looking appropriately skilled. There are a number of managers, it appears, on the floor who, in truth, seemed to be talking more to each other than watching the floor. When you enter you pass a very nice display of dried ravioli for sale. You are then greeted by the host. She has one of those radio transmitter devices in her ear and her hand, so that she can communicate with servers or others on the floor of the restaurant. Not sure why on earth that is necessary, since the place is not so very large. You get the impression that the restaurant was not sure if it was aiming for a cool hangout, cheek by jowl with the other similar spots in the meat packing district, or if it wants to focus on the food.

                When we entered one of the chefs, Italian, was standing there and we spoke with him. I asked him what he recommends. He suggested one dish of ravioli with a certain sauce. He then looked at the menu and saw it wasn't on the menu. Yes the ravioli was there but not with the sauce he suggested. Its was unclear how that happened. But that set the tone for the evening.