- scene: Mix of people from the hood, and people who sought it out; On this particular Sunday, there happened to be lots of great looking families
- sip: Lemonata Menta - enough said! Also extensive wine list via fancy sommelier
- savor: All the pastas sound amazing, and there wasn't one salad (I know, I know) that I wouldn't choose; Chicken for two in a clay pot, striped bass
- sit: There really isn't a bad seat in the back dining room; If you are lucky, you can sit by the "fireplace"
- spend: $$$$
- address: 45 East 22nd Street (btw Park and Broadway)
- phone number: (212) 982-8422
- website: www.cianonyc.com
Upon hearing the news that Beppe was closing and making way for Ciano, I was both excited and apprehensive to try this new restaurant. First off, Shea Gallente was named chef which excited me because the Pants never made it to Cru (despite it being a staple in our neighborhood for years). But on the other hand, he teamed up with Philippe’s Stratis Morfogen, which definitely gave me weird vibes – were overpriced spins on traditional cooking and a crowd desperately trying to be trendy to follow? Jonathan Gilbert (from Per Se) heralded as Maitre D – would 4 hour dinner service ensue?
Because of these mixed emotions, it wasn’t until Sifton awarded Ciano 2 stars that I decided I had to go. But swearing on my newest pair of spiked Loubs that I donned to the restaurant, I am beyond happy that I did. Sunday dinner with parents and the bf started out with an amazing citrus cocktail, almost followed by another, but made the responsible decision with Monday looming ahead of me. Fresh grilled bread and foccacia was put in front of us, and although bikini (and wedding) season is coming up, I couldn’t resist. This might sound stupid, but I was already looking forward to more.
The menu was an issue in that there was so much that sounded good to us, we probably took about 20 minutes to figure out how to strategically order. Good thing though, because it took a long time for our waiter to even bother to come by and tell us the specials. I’m not going to lie, service was not necessarily a strong point – head waiters in suits pretending to be attentive but instead deferring to food runners holding slips, which I’m guessing told them what course the table was on given how religiously they were staring at them.
That said, I did appreciate how they let you order – there was a seasonal menu where you could choose between a 4- or 5-course meal and an a la carte menu, but they let you order whatever you want, however you want, whenever you want (achem BABBO). We ordered a lobster salad with whipped burrata and avocado, and the Cortecce pasta with baby octopus, peppers, and garlicky breadcrumbs off the Spring Market Menu, and a beet salad with whipped robiola and a 12-year aged balsamic and Casarecci with fennel sausage, broccoli rabe, and baked ricotta off the regular menu to start. Oh, and those rock shrimp meatballs, which was probably the only low point if I had to name one. The pastas were both cooked perfectly and filled with flavor, while the lobster salad with burrata (real Kosher, right) and beet salad were both refreshingly delicious.
For the main course, we had a chicken for two baked in a clay pot, crispy duck breast glazed in honey, and wild striped bass with a Gaeta olive marmalade . The chicken was cooked incredibly, because the clay pot is sealed with the makes of everything amazing – pizza dough. The result is a clean (skinless), juicy and extremely tasty chicken. I would eat this every week if I could! I’m not a huge duck fan but the table loved it, and the striped bass was…well, a nice piece of bass.
After a few bottles of wine, and even being offered a glass from an expensive bottle another table peaced out on, I hardly remember much about dessert except that I devoured it. I may have been in a fab new pair of Louboutins, but thank god I wore them with stretchy pants!