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440 West 33rd Street, Suite 100
New York, NY 10001
BY ANTONIO GALLONI | MARCH 24, 2023
Insalata di Mare; Castelvetrano Olives, Aleppo
Escarole, Walnuts, Goat Cheese
Braised Beans; Parmigiano, Olives
Stracci; Rabbit, Wine, Parmigiano
|Ci Siamo Negroni||100|
|2013 Prà Soave Monte Grande||93|
|2018 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe||89|
Ci Siamo, a recent addition from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, has fast become one of my go-to spots in New York City for delicious, hearty food and fabulous wine. Ci Siamo is located in the Manhattan West Plaza, a sort of courtyard nestled between 31st and 33rd Streets and 9th and 10th Avenues. If going for the first time, give yourself a few extra minutes, as Ci Siamo is not easy to find. But, once you are there, you won’t want to leave. It’s that kind of place. As an added bonus, Ci Siamo is just a short walk from Madison Square Garden, making it the ideal spot for readers who want to enjoy a quality meal before a sporting or music event.
A simple plate of
prosciutto is a perfect starter.
Ci Siamo is a colloquial Italian phrase that translates into “we’re here” or “that’s it.” For some reason, those words sound much catchier in Italian than in English. I suppose that is the flair of Italy. A bustling bar area with tables leads into the cozy dining room, with an open kitchen at the end. The vibe is informal and buzzing with energy.
Chef Hillary Sterling’s menu is full of takes on Italian comfort food classics. It’s the sort of cuisine Meyer has excelled at for years at places like Maialino and Marta. Comfort food at its best. With the exception of the main courses, most of the food is served on small plates that are ideal for sharing.
The Insalata di Mare
evokes coastal Italy.
Beverage Director Robin Wright has put together a stellar list, naturally built with a strong focus on Italy. As with all the USHG restaurants, prices are quite fair for today’s standards. Sure, there are very expensive options for those who wish to splurge, but also some of the most reasonable restaurant prices readers will find for many other wines, including some of Italy’s iconic bottles. I won’t say which, readers can discover that for themselves.
On this night, we opted for a light early dinner and wines by the glass as hockey at the Garden waited. Everything was spot on, even better than it was on our first visit a few months prior.
A plate of simple Prosciutto and the Insalata di Mare are perfect starters for our aperitivo. Taste the Insalata, close your eyes, take a sip of Negroni, and you could be anywhere in coastal Italy. Ci Siamo’s Insalata Verde and Braised Beans are two wonderfully flavorful, hearty dishes perfect for the cold winter months.
Escarole; Walnuts, Goat Cheese.
The stracci is pasta with a rich sauce of rabbit braised in white wine and topped with Parmigiano. Apparently, Sterling was inspired by a similar dish she had in Verduno, except that the original featured Gorgonzola. Worried that Gorgonzola might be too strong for New York City palates, Sterling opted to soften the dish using Parmigiano instead. I would never give a chef advice, but I have to say I would love to taste her version with Gorgonzola!
Stracci; Rabbit, Wine and Parmigiano is a tasty, hearty pasta.
The Ci Siamo Negroni is so delicious. A splash of Cappellano’s Barolo Chinato is the secret ingredient. What a knockout. I would have gladly had a second, but I am not as young as I used to be. It’s the perfect Negroni. That’s all there is to it.
Braised Beans; Parmigiano, Olives
Aged Soave is one of the great joys of Italian wine. The 2013 Soave Monte Forte from Prà is
exquisite and in the zone. A blend of Trebbiano di Soave and late-harvested
Garganega aged in cask, the Monte Forte shows what Soave can be when planted in
top sites and made with meticulous care. It’s a gorgeous, complex white that
works well at any stage in a meal. Superb. The Vajra family does a fabulous job
with all their wines. The Barolo Albe is a mid-tier offering, not as
inexpensive as their Dolcettos and Barberas, but also priced below their single
vineyard Barolos. It is one of my go-to wines on restaurant lists, as it offers
so much value. Done in a forward, fruity style, the Albe offers tons of appeal
in its dark fruit, leather and spice notes. Naturally, the 2018 shows the
modest complexity of the vintage, but it is a gorgeous wine in every way. I
Sadly, our New York Rangers were totally outplayed at the Garden. Dinner turned out to be the highlight of the evening, but I think that would have been the case no matter the outcome of the game. I can’t say enough good things about Ci Siamo. Two recent dinners have been nothing short of superb.
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