New York Magazine restaurant review guru and word extraordinaire, Adam Platt, said it best… “Studiously chic, nouveau-rustico Italian establishments have been popping up around town like mushrooms.” However, this statement was directed in reference to Spasso, one of Ciano’s pesky little (and looking back) pre-pubescent, and quite awkward, little competitors.
Ciano is not just another mushroom. It is a truffle.
Ciano has garnered significant attention in the brief six months it has been open. Of course, I had to try it. For research purposes…
The décor is upscale, but still warm. Pinkish-orange hues tint the dining room filled with old-but-new farm-esque furniture. White linens over the tables contribute to the restaurant’s overall elegance. It is as if Restoration Hardware had a change of heart and decided to try its luck as a restaurateur.
Ciano is fancy, but not stuffy. Jackets are not required, but if worn, diners will so-perfectly blend into the setting and complete the overall portrait owner and chef, Shea Gallante, intended.
This is a restaurant worth changing out of sweats for. Even the wait staff was dressed impeccably, buzzing around the restaurant in their blazers, diligently carrying out the whims of dinners. Oh-so-attentive, without being annoying.
Worth mentioning is the beautiful fireplace, which is in the process of being converted from wood burning to gas. Parked in front of it, the sommelier serves up wine a la carte. Patrons can order any wine the house carries by the glass, half bottle, or bottle. If that isn’t freedom of choice, I don’t know what is.
After taking in the beautiful décor, I thought to myself that there was no way the food could possibly live up to the expectations created by the atmosphere. But, the ambiance was just foreplay.
We opted for a la carte, instead of a tasting menu or the Chef’s Collection. The meal started with three different types of complementary bread, accompanied by truffle butter and red pepper olive oil. They had me at hello. Of the Assaggni (which means small plates or tapas) we got the Pizzette with Roasted Peppers. It was a great one-biter to get things going. I am not really into beets, but I have to admit the insalata of Rainbow Beets with Whipped Robiola and Balsamic was delicious. Do not skip the Warm Artichoke Salad. The Roasted Veal Meatballs served with Creamy White Polenta, are a must. The meatballs are considered one of their signature dishes, and, it is no wonder the kitchen is reproducing them faster than you can count the rabbits on the wall-length mural.
If I had to pick, the Green Garlic Cavatelli with Smoked Maitake, Poached Egg and Fava Beans was probably my favorite pasta, though the Pappardelle with Duck Bolognese was pretty amazing as well. The Spring “Siamese” Ravioli with Sweet Pea & Burrata Filling was better than average, though I don’t feel like it got a fair chance, as it was on the other end of the table and I only got a bite or two. It was every man for himself at that point. I could have done without the Cortecce Pasta with Baby Octopus and Bread Crumbs, which we ordered off the Chef’s Collection menu. It just didn’t hold up to the others by comparison.
The Chicken For Two comes baked in a clay pot, which they proudly present to you, prior to slicing. It was a bit of a turn-off to see the skinless bird in there. Although the chicken was extremely moist, tender, and juicy, I did not love the texture. If I am going to order chicken at a restaurant, I want golden, crispy, salty, skin that melts in my mouth. That said, everyone enjoyed the chicken, and the sauce it is doused in, is plate-licking worthy.
While I am not usually one to comment on dessert, Ciano really blew me away. The biscotti was not your typical plate of dried almond bread. There were baby French macarons, caramel squares and an assortment of goodies, each one delicious in its own right. The Cioccolatini was also a hodgepodge of truffles and chocolate-covered small bites, each morsel more scrumptious than the next. Both desserts were perfect for sharing, and went a long way when it came to divvying up dessert. The Apple Napoleon was beyond.
To say the least, we left Ciano over-indulged. I wish I could say that it was not worth the exorbitant prices, but I would be lying through the food still stuck in my teeth.
Ciano is located at:
45 E 22nd Street New York, NY