Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina
This restaurant is closed!
75 Ninth Ave (Chelsea Market)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 370-0975
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Getting a plate of pasta is a fairly simple task in New York City; you can find it everywhere from your local pizza joint to the corner diner to the seemingly gazillion number of Italian eateries dotting this city. But finding a place where pasta is not just the main attraction but the driving force is a little less easy. Which may be why famed Italian pasta-maker Giovanni Rana has taken over the ginormous front space at the mega-popular Chelsea Market to open his first combination restaurant/take out shop in the United States.
The industrial-inspired décor is appealing and inventive – although the smallish metal chairs don’t really lend themselves to lingering -- and the vast surroundings make Giovanni Rana a good place for large groups. And you don’t have to eat pasta; there are a handful of other menu options, including a tempting-sounding charcuterie platter of meats and cheeses, pan-roasted baby chicken, and a strip steak.
If you just want a light snack and nice bottle of wine, you could do worse than ordering the crostoni platter: a trio of generously filled copper pots boasting a smooth-as-can-be ricotta and kale pesto, a tasty, chunky sunchoke caviar, and a spread of pecorino cheese, black olives, and sundried tomatoes – cleverly embedded in a rolling wooden pin – accompanied by slices of unimpressive fried bread.
But, as much as we enjoyed it, we came for the pastas – all of which were patiently explained to us by our waiter. An appetizer portion of cheese-filled fried artichoke ravioli, which came with a handful of fried artichokes, was fairly addictive. Excellent spinach and ricotta girasole (another form of ravioli) arrived swathed in a rich butter sauce and set inside a large shell of crisp fried parmagiana reggiano. Squid ink pasta, unusual to look at but otherwise a tad bland, is enlivened by a mound of briny, buttery sea urchin. Less successful was a lasagna made with sausage, chiodini mushrooms, and radicchio topped with béchamel; it was rich yet not completely satisfying. Perhaps we’d have been wiser to heed our waiter’s suggestion of the lobster mezzaluna (a larger type of ravioli), which we were told had pieces of the beloved crustacean on the plate.
Hoping to find a little room for dessert – there’s even a chocolate ravioli on the menu – I wandered over to the small shop area for a few minutes, where I admired some extremely beautiful (and extremely expensive) Italian ceramics and contemplated taking home a bottle of the excellent olive oil that we had sampled at the beginning of the evening. But I left empty-handed and still too full for an even bite of something sweet. I’m sure, though, that I’ll have another chance, as this place seems destined for a healthy stay at Chelsea Market.
Review By: Brian Scott Lipton