337 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10009
Last weekend, my best friend from Boston came to visit me. I decided to take her out for a nice romantic date at a restaurant called Gnocco. I mean, is there really any better way to welcome your best friend than stuffing your faces together with authentic Italian food? No. There just isn’t unless you have a gluten allergy.
So, my friend arrived, and a few hours later we decided to make the trek to 10th between Avenue A and B to try this restaurant. When we arrived, I was a bit confused as of how to actually get inside of the restaurant. I could see people dining, but I couldn’t find the door. After a few minutes of looking like idiots, my friend and I realized that we had to walk through the entrance of what looks like a pizza parlor next door in order to get inside the restaurant.
We were greeted by the hostess and seated in the indoor garden area, which was quite beautiful and comfortable. It felt as if we were in a lively Italian courtyard. The lights were dim and the room was spacious but very crowded with people laughing and talking loudly at each table. It was very casual.
Soon enough, the waiter came up to take our drink orders: I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio and my friend ordered some sparkling water. While we waited for our drinks, we were brought some white bread in a basket. The bread was nothing special; it was cold with no special herbs and came with a side of olive oil and vinegar.
After we had some time to scope out the menu, the waiter brought us our drinks and took our orders. I decided to get the Maccheroni al Torchio Integrali con Prosciutto di Parma e rucola, which translates to whole-wheat macaroni with braised Parma Prosciutto, arugula, and a “light touch” of cream. My friend ended up being a bit healthier and opted for the pizza Vegetariana, which is just a pizza with mozzarella, tomato sauce and mixed vegetables.
As we waited for our food, I felt so pleasant as I was sipping on my Pinot Grigio and catching up with my friend. The wine was a golden yellow and had cool, sharp taste. It went down so smoothly and it was exactly what I wanted at the time.
Our entrees came out thirty minutes later. I noticed my maccheroni did not look like conventional American macaroni, which was exciting. I first mixed in the arugula and prosciutto. Then when I took a bite, my heart instantly fluttered. Everything blended so well. The whole-wheat noodles were a bit harder than usual noodles, but not in a bad way. I actually really liked the texture. They were smothered in a cheese, cream sauce that had the perfect amount of intensity and blended well with parma prosciutto that was crispy and thick. Finally, the arugula was the perfect final touch and contrasted with the salty prosciutto and the cheesy sauce to give the dish dimension. The maccheroni was delicious and definitely different than any other macaroni dish I have ever had. The combination of flavors was simple, but tasted out of this world.
Unfortunately, my friend’s pizza Vegetariana was not as great as my maccheroni. It was edible, but it did not stand out like the maccheroni did. The crust was very thin and the pizza was pretty large, but light. The one thing that made her pizza different than the average vegetable pizza was the sauce. The tomato sauce had a “Tabasco sauce” flavor, but it was not spicy. I honestly couldn’t tell if I really liked the sauce; it was just kind of “there.” Don’t get me wrong, the pizza wasn’t bad; it just really had no outstanding qualities. I know vegetable pizza isn’t the most exciting choice, but I think it could have been a bit better.
When we were done our meal, we were very satisfied. Then, our satisfaction quickly turned to anxiety when the waiter came and brought the check only to let us know that they do not accept Visa, but they only accept American Express. As he saw the look of despair in my eyes, he then told us that there was an ATM in the entrance of the restaurant. So, I went to go withdraw cash from this ATM and realized that it was broken. Quite annoyed, I ended up having to go find an ATM a block away at a Deli/Market and withdraw cash there. Paying for this meal was very complicated and definitely took away from our relaxing dining experience. I think there should be a sign in the front of the restaurant letting customers know that only American Express is accepted. The waiters should also let diners know about this before they order their food and they should get their ATM fixed.
So if you decide to dine at Gnocco, I advise you just bring cash to avoid all of this. The payment obstacle aside, Gnocco had a nice atmosphere. The bread was mediocre and the pizza was very authentic but had nothing truly special, but my maccheroni was delicious. I think Gnocco does have very authentic Italian food, but you just have to order the right dish. 3/5 stars.