A great deal of restaurants compete for authenticity and great Italian cuisine. Yet harder to find is a place that breaks from a somewhat standardized New York Italian menu while remaining a warm and unpretentious establishment. That hard to achieve combination is to be found at Gnocco .
Nestled on a quiet block of alphabet city (East Village) , this hidden gem whose clientele goes from locals to hipsters and upper East Sider’s has this warm welcoming feel from the very minute your walk in. Before even getting to the main sitting area you’ll pass master pizzaiolo Federico Crociani widely known in the industry as a regular top three finisher at pizza-centric world championship. Watch him work the pizza dough and get yourself ready for a tasty experience!
Entering the main room , my friend and I were greeted by Stefano Biaggioni the manager of the restaurant who took us to our table. As we are settling into the mood of Gnocco with a delicious glass of Prosecco we learned that the restaurant (Gnocco) was named after the fried dough puffs sold with prosciutto and salami on the streets of Modena. The restaurant itself is designed with an almost humble and charming family-forward simplicity, maybe the one inspired by Viviana, the Italian nonna that came specially from Modena to teach the kitchen staff the genuine artistry of making their namesake dish: a long dark wood bar to sip a glass of wine or grab a quick bite, white walls in main sitting area with a view on the busy kitchen ending by a more cozy and romantic patio, ideal to catch a NY summer breeze.
On Stefano’s recommendation we started our diner with the delicious gnocco: The homemade deep fried dough came with a selection of prosciutto, coppa and salami, the typical northern Italian cold cuts. The dish is actually great to share and to mix with an another appetizer. Another unique specialty of the establishment is the Grilled Tomino: the tomino cheese is wrapped and baked in a speck crust, all placed atop pear carpaccio and dressed with balsamic vinegar.
These appetizers are well portioned so make sure to keep some room for the main courses! When it comes to the Primi Piatti pasta make sure to not miss my personal favorite the Maccheroni Al Torchio Integrali: a homemade whole wheat macaroni pasta that comes with braised parma prosciutto, spicy arugula and a touch of light cream. If you are more in the mood for pizza, try the thin crust Tartufata and its savory truffle sauce.
By now even though I was getting pretty full, it was time to move on to desert and try what caught my attention on the menu from the beginning: The Calzone Nutella! Like for my other suggestions don’t hesitate to share it as portions are quite generous. The sweetness of the nutella is delicately balanced with Ricotta. Keep in mind that this yummy calzone is made to order so make sure to order it a bit in advance if you’re in a rush.
For a lighter palette the tiramisu is an absolute must and will finish your meal to perfection with its slight espresso taste.
I ended my meal with a big smile and that feeling of true satisfaction: Gnocco is a destination not to be missed whether for a romantic dinner or a great table of friends!
337 East 10th Street between Avenues A and B