Well as I mentioned yesterday, I went out to dinner with my mom and room mate at this new (8 months) pasta restaurant in the Chelsea Market. My mom and I had been drawn into the restaurant by colorful array of fresh homemade pasta and because it was a new addition to the Chelsea Market (well new since we’d last been there). It’s called Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina and it is absolutely amazing.
There are several ways to get into the restaurant, but the front door is located on 9th avenue. The ambiance is, while the music can get a tad loud, still very relaxing and the decor is cozy. The marble topped wooden tables with the mismatched chairs along with the copper pots and pans hanging from from a pan rack and lined along a shelf and the visible kitchen gives it a homey feel.
When my room mate and I first got there (we were meeting my mom at the restaurant), she was a tad late. Since we couldn’t be seated without our entire party, we were left standing for a while. However, after a few minutes we were quickly ushered toward the bar to have a drink while we waited. We each got a glass of the lambrusco cleto chiarli, which was recommended to us by the (very cute) bartender. It was a sparkling wine, but the bubbles were very subtle and not overwhelmingly effervescent. The color was a lovely deep red and it was quite mild, which I enjoyed immensely.
After my mom showed up, we were led to our table and given our menus. Trust me, the choices are so tempting it was hard to choose just one. We started off our meal with a caprese of heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala (which is my favorite kind of mozzarella) and a sautéed zucchini dish with raisins, roasted pine nuts and mint and, of course, a bread basket (brown bag) of hearty bread where you could taste the sourdough culture and see the wonderful crumb content.
The caprese was absolutely beautiful and simple. I loved how it came out on a wooden board. The tomatoes were juicy and full of flavor, sweet yet savory with a hint of salt, which was perfectly complemented by the creamy mozzarella di bufala that practically melted in your mouth. My mom wanted to get another caprese, but Monica, my room mate, said we wouldn’t have enough room for dessert.
The sautéed zucchini was perfection, with the faint nuttiness of the roasted pine nuts and the sweetness of the raisins that balanced the garlic smothered (in a great way) zucchini slices. I was so pleasantly surprised by the pairing of the raisins and zucchini, seeing as it was something that one doesn’t really encounter on a daily basis.
After our bocconi and antipasti, it was time for the meal’s main stars. I had settled on the lobster ravioli with sautéed artichokes, while my mom picked the seared scallops with tomato oregano crostini and Monica picked the spinach and mascarpone ravioli served in a crispy parmigiano reggiano basket.
The lobster ravioli was absolutely delicious without being overly heavy. The ravioli, to complement the rich filling, came without a sauce. Perhaps the absence of a sauce made it filling, without having it sit heavily in my stomach. The artichokes were delicious as well, however I do feel that the outer layers were still quite tough and I had to chew them for a while, which wasn’t all that pleasant because after a while it felt like I was chewing on straw or something. But overall, I enjoyed the dish and thought it was quite delicious.
My mom’s scallops came in a wonderful copper pan. The tomatoes were slightly cooked and infused with flavor, but not overly so, since the juices within didn’t burn my tongue when I snagged a few. The scallops were grilled lightly and cooked to perfection, medium rare, which I prefer because it results in a juicy scallop and not a tough one. I admit I may have swooned a bit when I bit into it. The scallops and the tomatoes were so perfect together.
The spinach and mascarpone ravioli was filling as well and interestingly, the parmigiano was not as sharp as I expected it to be. I believe it may have been because of the mascarpone whose sweetness cut the sharpness, making the cheese basket milder than one would expect. I did however find that eating the basket itself revealed the parmigiano’s true flavor, which was again delicious. It was so hard to stop myself from eating all of it. The spinach and the mascarpone really blended together and like the lobster ravioli, it wasn’t overly heavy. This one did come with a creamy sauce, which really went with the pasta.
After our dinner plates were whisked away, we went through the challenge of choosing dessert. My mom was in need of some caffeine and sugar, seeing as she still had some jetlag, and Monica and I were just craving something sweet. We each decided to get a different dessert. My mom got the tiramisu (which means lead me to heaven in Italian…I think…), I got the millefoglie and Monica got the panna cotta.
The panna cotta came in this adorable mason jar and it was in different layers of flavors. The bottom was pistachio, the middle was white chocolate and a cherry jam/sauce was spread across the top. It was absolutely creamy and delicious, with faint after taste of almond. I’m usually not a white chocolate fan, but this panna cotta was amazing and embarassingly, the photo doesn’t do it any justice.
The millefoglie was basically a italian version of the mille feuille. The vanilla cream and the berries provided a nice contrast to the flaky pastry layers and well, I personally think that powdered sugar makes everything better, so. Overall it was perfect, the vanilla cream didn’t overpower the flavors of the berries and it all came together in a satisfying crunch in my mouth.
My mom’s tiramisu was possibly the best tiramisu I’d ever had. For one, the ratio of the creamy tiramisu and the sponge-cakesque bottom was perfect. The bottom, which traditionally is soaked with rum and/or coffee, did’t overpower the top portion, which is mascarpone cream mixture. It also wasn’t overly sweet or heavy at all.
Overall, this restaurant was amazing and my mom and I already have potential plans to go back. I know I’m going to be going back, even if it’s just for dessert or something. The menu is pretty pricey, but so worth it and the portion size is perfect! I definitely recommend Rana and I highly doubt you could go wrong with any of the choices you make. I already know what I want to order next time and it’s going to be completely different from what you read about today!
Until next time! Hugs and puppies!
Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina
75 9th Ave., Chelsea Market
New York City, NY 10011