So, one of my dearest friends, Stef, took me to one of her favorite UWS restaurants several weeks ago (I didn’t blog about it because I was so hungry I forgot to capture photos… sorry folks!). This restaurant is called Celeste — and Celeste doesn’t even have a website, so I wasn’t able to menu-stalk prior to going for dinner. Following our dinner a coworker of mine mentioned that I should go to Bianca downtown in Noho — she described this restaurant making it sound a bit like Celeste; there were no reservations, always expect a wait, payment is cash-only and the food is spectacular. Bianca does have a website so I forwarded it to Stef saying we needed to get to this joint asap! Stef couldn’t help but laugh as she pointed out to me that Bianca is Celeste’s sister restaurant.
So Stef and I hurried down to Bianca at 7:30 p.m. thinking our wait would be quick and easy — nope! we waited over an hour to be seated. But time flew by as we caught up over a glass of wine at an uber hipster bar right next to the restaurant. When we were seated at Bianca, I was reminded instantly of Al Di La in Brooklyn; the decor was so similar — old-school wall paper with white subway tiling to help divide the space on the walls, even the smells coming from the kitchen were as delectable as Al Di La’s.
We quickly ordered — clearly, we both scouted out the menu prior to attending dinner. To share: the Gnocco Fritto with Stracchino Cheese, a caprese salad (special of the day) and for our main dishes we both ordered pasta — I ordered myself the Ravioli di Ricotta con Burro e Salvia (ravioli in a butter and sage sauce) and Stef ordered herself the Gramigna con Salciccia e Peperoni (pasta with crumbled sausage and red bell pepper). Even though the restaurant was packed — not a single seat was available — the food came out in a very timely manner.
Our apps were d-e-l-i-s-h … The gnocco was perfectly cooked, nice and puffy and soft and the stracchino cheese was out of this world. It was obvious it was coated in a very flavorful truffle olive oil, but the cheese consistency was smooth and creamy — maybe even more so than a burrata. Remember folks, Gnocco is not the same as Gnocchi.
When it came to my ravioli, I instantly had a flash back. The first time I ever cooked my boyfriend a meal at home I made him a caprese salad served with ravioli in a sage and butter sauce (Thanks Food Network for the fabulous recipe and thank you Whole Foods for providing the “homemade” ravioli). This ravioli at Bianca though was homemade and wasn’t just “served with butter” — it was swimming in it. The longer I let the ravioli sit, the thicker the butter got, which allowed me to scoop more of it up on to my fork. I would order this rich dish again in a heart beat!
I had to share a pic of Stef’s pasta — it was out of this world! I also loved that Bianca wasn’t afraid to feed people, the serving sizes were outstanding!
I love finding restaurants like Bianca and Celeste — I am always ready for more suggestions… So if anyone has any, be sure to share the details! Bianca really fit the bill for me and Stef this weekend — literally! Ultimately for 2 appetizers, 2 main dishes of pasta, and 1 homemade sorbet for dessert … plus a bottle of wine. It all totaled up to $81. The way we ordered we were also “splurging” so the fact that we didn’t faint at the sight of the bill, we were very pleased!
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