New York Noodles: Giano

Giano's homemade pasta transports you directly to Milan, sans airfare

GIano's dining room is chic, cozy and modern

You'd never guess that Chef Matteo Niccoli of the East Village's Giano spends all day on his feet, bent over hot pots of splattering oil and steamy boiling water.  He bounces around his and wine director Paulo Rossi's restaurant in a floppy chef's hat, with an energy comparable to that of an energetic puppy.  But his cooking is much more sophisticated! 

Giano's Milanese menu highlights homemade pastas in rich and flavorful sauces unique to New York's Italian culinary scene.

On the seasonally changing menu, Gnocchi 4 Formaggi ($14.95) remains Giano's signature dish.  The gnoochi are impossibly fluffy, melting in your mouth alongside a rush of melted parmesano, tallegio, garganzola, and fontina (all imported from Italy). As Paolo says while he adds fresh pepper to your steamy dish, "It is the manefestation of love in gnocchi form." It is indeed. Matteo, who learned pasta-making from his grandmother in Italy before who could even see over the kitchen counter, creates a cheesy masterpiece comforting on the coldest days of winter yet homehow still cravable in the humid July heat.  

Niccoli also works to recreate old classics in his Milanese fare. The Bigoli al ragu d’agnello e noci ($16.95) is a homemade Medieval thick spaghetti entangled with slow cooked braised lamb ragout and dusted with a crunchy toasted walnut powder.  The soft lamb clings to the dense noodles in this savory, hearty dish, that seems far too modern in its flawless presentation and flavor to have been resurrected from the Middle Ages.  

And you can't go wrong with Niccoli's Spaghetti al Pomodoro Fresco ($12.95), a simple dish he claims as his favorite. Homemade spaghetti is tossed with fresh tomato sauce, made from local greenmarket tomatoes (cherry, or otherwise, depending on the season) and imported San Marzano tomatoes. The pasta is served alongside a dollop of basil pesto, to be mixed into the fragrant dish for an extra boost of fresh flavor.  

In addition to being a top notch pasta chef, Niccoli is also a talented pastry chef, because what's one without the other?  After a heavy pasta dinner, it may be tough to imagine dessert, but skipping the impossibly fluffy tiramisu is a rookie mistake.  

Related Stories
New York Noodles: BaoburgNew York Noodles: Nerai

Giano celebrates its 6th Birthday in January with hopefully many more years of fantastic homemade pasta ahead.