My first press dinner! It was scheduled for 7PM at Giano in East Village. After window shopping around Herald Square after work, I took the F train to 2nd avenue and then walked from there on this cold evening, all excited.
Janus, according to Roman mythology, is the god of beginnings and transitions. Coincidentally, my first press dinner is a place that is inspired by Janus. Is that a sign? 🙂
The inspiration is reflected in their decor, contemporary on one hand, rustic on the other. It doesn’t stop there. It continues to the food, the presentations and the unique mix of various ingredients coming together on your plate, and eventually on your palette.
Paolo Rossi and Matteo Niccoli are the extremely friendly owners of this Italian joint, with Matteo being the executive and pastry chef and Paolo being the wine connoisseur.
More than anything, I was extremely taken over by Paolo’s sense of humor and very warm and amiable and accommodating service, throughout the course of our dinner, which spread over about 10 courses.
This being my first press dinner, I was not sure what to expect. Going there, I found out that they had a pre-crafted menu for us for that evening. I informed our PR spokesperson that I was a vegetarian and the restaurant happily accommodated my request. They brought me a corresponding vegetarian dish for every meat/fish entree they had on their menu.
The Appetizer Course
Crispy polenta and mushrooms tossed in white wine on the left, toasted ravioli with a chunky tomato sauce on the top right and a delightfully caprese salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. According to Matteo, they get their mozzarella imported from Italy, with a new batch arriving each Thursday. This day was Thursday 🙂
Spaghetti al pomodoro fresco
Very festive, in colors, as you see, with nut-free pesto to complement the fresh tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes with the spaghetti.
Risotto di zucca e gorgonzola con amaretti
Probably the best presented risotto that I have eaten till date, with butternut squash, gorgonzola cheese sauce to complement its sweet taste and powdered amaretti cookies to add some crunch to the otherwise smooth risotto.
Gnocchi ai 4 formaggi
With tallegio, fontina, gorgonzola and parmesan, this was a light and soft gnocchi. Matteo shared the secret of a light, soft gnocchi – apportioning potatoes and flour in just the right amounts.
A nice cucumber tomato salad with goat cheese, olives and basil, only so that I have something to eat alsongside the fish course for my colleagues:)
As Paolo put it before me, he described it to me and told me “Made with lot of love.” 🙂
So, it was!
The Dessert Course
Refreshing coffee gelato and a rich tiramisu.
The funny and friendly Paolo
The Executive Chef & the Master Presenter – Matteo
The restroom lights that I really liked! Where does this come in picture, eh? Well, I love to check out the facilities, see how clean they are and which has been my favorite restroom, so and so forth, really!
Summarizing, I spent a wonderful evening getting to meet three lovely people with whom I enjoyed my dinner, and two affable co-owners of this cute and quiet Italian joint, interaction with whom increased my knowledge about Italian foods.