Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Gnocchi Bolognese, Gianna's, Carlstadt, NJ
Gianna's is a cozy little Italian Restaurant located in the middle of a large business dsitrict in Carlstadt, New Jersey. I've been there before on business lunches, so it is a natural choice when it's time to talk business over a nice meal. Gianna's was also one of the first retaurants in the area to reopen after Hurricane Sandy and an over-topped levee caused considerable flooding for large parts of town. Even one of the worst natural disasters to hit the area failed to put a dent in the quality of their food...
My choice for the day was the Gnocchi Bolognese. For the unitiated, Gnocchi is a form of pasta that are essentially small dumplings made from either potato, or ricotta mixed with flour (see my home made version here). At Gianna's the gnocchi are typically served with a bolognese sauce- a tomato saucemade with ground beef.
It is obvious at a glance that Gianna's Gnocchi are hand made- they are irregular shaped, and not all quite the same size- it is easy to be tempted to think that this means sloppy work- but it most certainly does not. Perfectly shaped, uniform sized Gnocchi are clearly not hand made- in this case, the shaping proclaims for all to see that these Gnocchi were NOT made by a machine, they were made with hands that care about quality. That quality shows- it is very easy to make gnocchi that are too dense. The dish becomes heavy and overbearing. Properly made gnocchi are light and airy- they may look like a heavy meal, but should be surprisingly light. Gianna's hits the mark dead on.
The bolognese is fresh, adn is studded with bits of basil and garlic. It comes off a touch on the oily side, but the excess oil seems to get absorbed by the gnocchi themselves, and actually works out well. There is just enough sauce to coat the gnocchi, with jsut enough extra on the plate to scrape up with a piece of fresh bread.
The bread is also a highlight- fresh baked and crusty. This is not your average grocery store italian bread- it is crafted with all the care that went into the gnocchi. I would be surprised if it turned out that Gianna's did not bake this bread fresh on premises. If they bring it in from the outside- I'd really like to know where they get it- it is a perfect accompaniment for any pasta dish.