Bianca, NYC


Chef: Giancarlo Quadalti
Cuisine: Italian
Neighborhood: NoHo
Price: appetizers under $10, mains under $20  (cash only)
Address: 5 Bleecker St., NYC 10012
Telephone: 212-260-4666
Hours: Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-midnight; Sun 5pm-10:30pm

Tucked away in the bustle of the NoHo neighborhood, Bianca is a gem of a restaurant serving up very affordable Italian fare with great service and a cozy ambiance. I’ve been to just about every bar and restaurant within a few block radius of Bianca, but have not tried this spot (sadly) until recently. Although I was in a party of 5, we were seated within 20 minutes. The server read us the specials, recommended a nice wine from the value menu, and never forgot to refill our waters. I loved the energy of the spot, thoroughly enjoyed the food, and was totally pleasantly surprised at the bill — it was less than $40 a person with the wine!

Upon reading up on Bianca, I also realized it is by the same folks at Celeste on Upper West Side. I haven’t been to Celeste in years, but I remember it as having a similarly relaxed vibe and atmosphere focused on hearty Italian fare (pizza mostly) with affordable wines. So the tangent aside, here is what we ate.

Gnocco Fritto – fried puffy dough rectangles with imported cold cuts or stracchino cheese
Similar to a French Gougère, these puffy dough rectangles were airy and delightful. We ordered them with stracchino cheese, but I had them with the cold cuts on another occasion and liked the ham-and-cheese-like appetizer. Of course, I’m also a sucker for cold cuts.

Lasagnette di Verdure – eggplant, zucchini and tomato tart with grated parmigiano cheese
This was by far my favorite appetizer; the tart was amazing.

Carciofi Fritti – fried baby artichokes with crispy parsley
The artichokes were a bit too rough and chewy, but the crispy parsley was awesome, very unique

Lasagna – the traditional one from Emilia-Romagna with Bechamel and meat sauce
I did not order this, but my two friends said it was epic

Tagliolini ai Frutti di Mare – with clams, mussels, calamari and shrimps sautéed in garlic, extra virgin olive oil and lite tomato sauce
Calling all seafoodie lovers!  This pasta was very flavorful and jam-packed with treats from the ocean tossed in a simple garlic, olive oil and tomato sauce

Brodetto di Pesce – Adriatic Fish and Shellfish Stew
Reminiscent of a Cioppino, the stew was very hearty

Fettuccine with Porcini Mushrooms (I believe; this was a special)
I’m typically not a pasta person, but I scarfed this one up. I also cannot resist mushrooms.

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