Galli Galli-leujah!

Galli chicken Parm

View Gallery


Buttons Undone

Pants at a Glance
  • scene: Long narrow space with a big bar in the front and a bigger dining room in the back; brick walls with pictures of famous boxers; quirky and fun music
  • sip: The Clairmont or any other expertly constructed unique cocktails; wine
  • savor: Italian comfort food classics like baked clams, mozzarella chips and parm; chicken francese
  • sit: With a group that likes to share; casual date
  • spend: $$
  • address: 45 Mercer Street (between Broome and Grand)
  • phone number: (212) 966-9288
  • website:

Some times you just need to kick it old-school. NYC has a seemingly endless amount of Italian restaurants offering every kind of interpretation of the cuisine- Northern Italian, Southern Italian, recipes from Grandma, new world interpretations of old world sicilian, etc, and we love it all, but some times a girl just needs a rice ball. Galli serves Italian classics of no distinguishable origin in a classically modern setting with an ambitious cocktail program, and we could not be happier.

Fried mozzarella, rice balls, baked clams, penne vodka…these were all on offer at the local pizza place in our hometown (shout out to the back room of Villa Pizza), so to us, that was Italian food. We have grown up and expanded our view of the cuisine, but we always light up when we see these familiar items on a menu- especially on the menu of a hip new restaurant. These types of classics are rarely found outside Little Italy or real gems like John’s on 12th street, which makes Galli even more exciting. Galli is located on a fairly residential stretch of Mercer Street, and the menu and prices are perfect for a neighborhood joint, a rarity in the touristy mall that is now Soho.

Did I mention that there is a whole section of the menu devoted to “parm?” Is there anything better than that?! There is also a large selection of pastas, and salads, and both have clean combinations of classic ingredients ; I would like to try to them all. What we had:

Baked clams- perfectly buttery and garlicky and breadcrumby; the sauce was just begging to sopped up with some bread; the best baked clams that are not from Don Pepe’s
Mozzarella chips- Fried cheese with tomato sauce, perfection…not greasy, but gooey
Rice Balls- good texture, and big, a step up from pizzeria rice balls but not as good as home-made
Meatballs- meatballs are pretty much everywhere now, but these were good as a shared appetizer
Chicken Parm- this was a real treat- nicely breaded and thin chicken (grilled is offered, but, really?!), good cheese crust, zippy sauce, with a side of pasta or salad- just the way it should be, and worth returning for
Chicken Francese- This was the winner winner of the chicken dishes (see what I did there? You thought I was going to say “dinners”)-perfectly done chicken, sauce was not too heavy, I am obsessed; this is such a random dish to me but at Galli was executed perfectly- no need to make it high-brow, just make it good
Chicken Marsala- someone was checking out Facebook when it was time to pull the marsala reduction off the heat because it was way too thick and syrupy
Spaghetti Vongole- more clammy garlicky goodness
Tiramisu- not something I love in general, but the cake layers were light and nicely soaked with coffee flavor
Nutella sandwiches- the brioche was too thick, kind of took away some of the gooey fun, but the strawberries were a nice touch; We heard that this dish is going to be replaced by a brownie sundae (more old school fun) but I think they should just find a better vessel through which to deliver the Nutella, like a spoon directly into my mouth
Berries with whipped cream- um, they were out of whipped cream, which is weird, because you can make it in about 2 minutes

The bar cocktails are all unique and the bar staff seems in contrast to the rest of the staff- they were more formally knowledgable, but still friendly; the hostess and waitstaff didn’t seem to have any sort of uniform beyond tattoos, but our waitress was really attentive and helpful with the menu. The bar tenders clearly take pride in their creations; the level of detail in the cocktails and the non-traditional ingredients seem slightly out of place with the comfort food on the menu. The cocktail menu almost seems like it is for a different place, but no less enjoyable. The music was 1950’s classics (Dream Lover) which was fun and unexpected, both retro and surprising, like Galli itself. This is a great place to go with a group that likes to share, or with people who might be picky about their food because everyone should be able to find something pleasing on this menu. ( And if you can’t we don’t care, we think its fantastic.)

Galli Baked Clams

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *