Gradisca is an Italian restaurant that belongs equally to Italy and New York. It’s one of the most authentic Italian restaurants I know (a family from Bologna owns and runs it). Still, with its location inside a historic Greenwich Village townhouse, it has a classic New York vibe.
I’d never heard of Gradisca when a friend invited me to go for the first time in 2011. To our surprise, The New York Times was there taking photos for an article about the owner’s mamma, Caterina Schenardi, who flys to New York a few times a year to make the pasta by hand.
The Times described how Caterina makes my favorite dish (the tortellini) by spending “much of the evening stuffing impeccably minced meat into pouches of pasta.” It’s a lot of manual work, but the result is an incredibly rich and creamy dish with the perfect amount of meat in every bite.
Even the head chef defers to Caterina on all matters of pasta preparation, from using traditional cooking methods to Italian-only ingredients like Spadoni “00” flour. Gradisca may have the most classic New York digs, but it’s as close to real Italian cooking as you’ll find in the city (unless you have a friend with an Italian mamma).