When our good friend Alicia came home from a year aboard in Florence she began a quest to find authentic northern Italian food in New York. What she found was Gennaro, a tiny, cash only spot in the 90’s on the West Side. You might overlook it entirely if you are even in that neighborhood, but once you eat there you will be making it a regular spot.
OK, we haven’t been up to Gennaro in quite sometime, but after posting our own version of the brown butter and sage sauce over ravioli, we decided it might be worth a review. Also, Gennaro is so consistently good that it really doesn’t matter when you go it always pleases. The menu is short and to the point and I can say I have never had a bad meal here. For appetizers start with the Calamari Alla Griglia: a plate of perfectly grilled, tender calamari with Sicilian couscous or the Frisée Con Pecorino Fresco. This salad pairs walnuts, pear, fresh pecorino and truffle oil to play off sweet and savory. A standard of quality is the Insalata Caprese with ripe sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil. Entrees can be split between pasta and meat or fish courses. The pasta is plenty for one, but to get the most out of the experience its fun split with friends. The Gnocchi Di Patate: fresh potato dumplings in a light tomato, cream and basil sauce is satisfying comfort food. My favorite is the Tortelloni Di Ricotta E Spinaci. This dish of ravioli filled with ricotta & spinach in a butter & sage sauce inspired our own version. Its so simple and delicious, with a rich butter sauce and crisp savory sage, combined with perfectly cooked homemade pasta. Great meat entrees include the lamb shank, and the sausage with broccoli rabe and polenta is excellent.
Always wait for the specials, as they are usually unique and well prepared. They often have a stuffed sardine with golden raisins and breadcrumbs that is so good I think about it all the time. There are only two things on the desert menu and only one of them needs to be eaten all the time: Tiramisu. This is easily the best I have had (expect the one that Jess made recently). The service is impeccable at Gennaro and the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. The wine list is not overwhelming or too pricey and the staff does an excellent job of pairing wine with your choices for dinner.
Don’t forget its cash only and there can sometimes be wait, but it moves fast and well worth it.