Kandace Miller
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Kandace Miller


Band Classical New Age


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The best kept secret in music


More than 35 years have passed since the Stonewall riots, and the iconic bar still stands proud on the street that bears its name, right in the middle of Sheridan Square. Nestled next to it, in the building that used to house Stonewall Bistro, is Gianna’s, the more mellow sister eatery to its rowdy dance-club brother Stonewall.

My friend and I embarked on our journey through Gianna’s menu to the tune of pianist Kandace Miller, whose George Winston-like tinkerings provided a wonderful wintry backdrop to the restaurant’s Northern Italian offerings. Choosing to skip past the Antipasti (which included calamari and grilled lamb sausage reasonably priced between $5.95 and $11.95), we chose to sample the Primo Paste instead—specifically, Rigatoni con Salsiccia, Salsa di Pomodoro e Prezzemolo ($10.95). Roughly translated, it’s “Italian Pork Sausage in Tomato Sauce with Parsley.” In layman’s terms: “It’s the kind of thing you could eat forever if Gianna’s kindly staff kept serving it to you.” The dish is nice and sweet, with huge, perfectly cooked rigatoni served in a light, thoroughly flavorful sauce with fennel-flecked sausage to die for.

A Caesar Salad ($6.95) is always a good test of Italian mettle, and Gianna’s passed with flying colores. Crisp hearts of chopped romaine lettuce mixed with a deliciously creamy garlic dressing and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano to create a truly wonderful salad. I was also curious to try the Rucola, Pere, Noci e Gorgonzola Insalate ($7.95)—that’s arugula with sliced pear, toasted walnuts and gorgonzola with lemon dressing, to you and me.
I must mention the delicious Pinot Bianco/Skoff Weissburgunder, Styria 2004 ($26/bottle) we enjoyed. Normally, Gianna’s serves it by the bottle, but when my friend and I dined there we were afforded the option of enjoying it by the glass as part of the restaurant’s weekly rotation of bottled wines from its c

We shared the Costine de Manzo Brasato in Vino Rosso ($15.95)—succulent beef shortribs braised in red wine with mashed potatoes. I liked the dish more than my friend, it seemed, although we were both overcome by the otherworldly cloud of creamy potatoes so fluffy the appeared as though they were about to float off of the plate into the heavens. Divine! I was invigorated by the Salmone alla Vodka con Pepe Verde ($15.95)—a sautéed salmon filet treated like a steak introduced to a vodka and green-peppercorn sauce with braised fennel then completed with biting grilled orange slices. The hard peppercorns become delightfully chewy when heated and paired rapturously with the sweet fennel and orange to create a truly sumptuous entrée that I couldn’t bear to let go until I had finished every last bit.

The question of dessert remained (here it’s worth noting that Gianna’s makes all their desserts on the premises). Striding ahead, we ordered the Crème Brulée ($6.50), which arrived classically prepared (the way it should be—without the unnecessary and overpowering frills that come when Brulée is joined with mangos, blueberries, espresso or other needless et ceteras); Gianna’s Brulée was right on the money. So was the Flourless Torte ($6.50), a mousse baked to its decadently chocolate best.

No, she may not have the boisterous atmosphere of her big-brother bar adjacent, nor any of Stonewall’s great history, but as future West Village institutions go, Gianna’s seems well on its way. - NEXT MAGAZINE





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