Ciano - Dude Grade: B+
45 East 22nd Street (at Park Ave)
New York, NY
I have to admit - I am a big fan of the chef here Shea Gallante. He started with Pino Luongo and then Lidia Bastianich, so you know he understands pasta well. After he upped his game and worked for Bouley which you can see in his food - really elevated techniques and refined cuisine. He capped that off earning three stars from the NY Times at the phenomenal Cru. Now, he's opening up Ciano where he takes delicious comfort Italian food and just elevates them off with his technique. Highly Recommended.
What a way to start the meal. This was a flavor bomb. A light mayo sauce (not drenched) covering the amazingly sweet dungeness crab - almost reminded me of a lobster roll. Then, add the great smoky/crunchy bread and topped with the salty flavorful salami - you have an awesome couple of bites.
Crostino w/ Whipped Chicken Livers **
Great texture on the rice and nice and crisp on the outside. Unfortunately, this was completely bland which was massively disappointing considering how phenomenal the crostinos were.
Rainbow Beets **
with whipped robiola, wild watercress and 12yr aged balsamic
I've seen this dish 100x and these were still great. Perfectly cooked beats that worked so well with the creamy robiola cheese and the ground pistachio nuts. Great combo of texture and flavors.
Roasted Veal Meatballs ***
served with creamy white polenta with herbs and truffle pecorino
with Duck Bolognese, Oregano, and Pecorino di Noce
with braised oxtail and fontina cheese fonduta
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way
Overall Restaurant Experience
- Food (A-) - Phenomenal Italian food that serves very elevated cuisine. Even the breads were phenomenal which are toasted in the fireplace in the middle of the dining room. Unfortunately, the arancini was a miss and the papardelle was a tad off. Still, when this place is on, I don't think you can find a better Italian place in the city.
- Service (A+) – The server we had was perfect - friendly, engaging, checked in often, and recommended phenomenal dishes. The food came out at a perfect pace - only about 5-10 min wait. As a side note, there's a hostess that looks like a model wearing a sexy evening gown. Seemed quite odd, but no complaints :)
- Atmosphere (B) – Oddly, everything was very flesh colored and dimly lit - pretty romantic. It's a weird mix here as they're straddling a relaxed vibe (christopher cross playing in the background) and fine dining as all the waiters wear suits. We got there at 5:30 on a Saturday and were immediately seated. The place did get crowded with an interesting mix of older couples (70+), middle aged couples, and large groups. We definitely brought the average age down though.
- Price (B-) - Price was around $80 a person which is a tad pricey (include a couple of glasses of wine), but the food was so good and the service was phenomenal. What caught us off guard was the pastas were listed as $16, but the server mentioned we can double it up as an entree portion. Unfortunately, we didn't put two and two together and realized that this would double the price from $16 to $30. The overall experience is still worth it in my opinion.
For me, this is probably tied with Salumeria Rosi for the best Italian food in the city. Salumeria Rosi is way more rustic and laid back, but I would go to Ciano for more refined upscale Italian. Locanda Verde's right in the middle (not as good as either though) - no where near as refined techniques as Ciano, but slightly more refined that Salumeria Rosi.