Checking in with Nolita Neighborhood Gem Bianca: Is this the Best Cheap Italian Spot in Town? 

SSPNY Eats at the Best Cheap Italian Spot in Town: Nolita Neighborhood's Bianca

SSPNY checks out the always packed Bianca in Nolita which opened up in 2005 by Chef Giancarlo Quadalti and Roberta Riccioli after success of Upper West Side sister, Celeste, and located on Bleecker right around the corner from Bowery and first-rate restaurants such as DBGB, The Wren, Peels and Hecho en Dumbo.

From the outside, Bianca looks like any one of a thousand mediocre New York City restaurants, with its semi-dingy curtains, peeling paint, silly typography. And once you poke your head in the door? More of the same. Scratched up wooden floors, generic, crammed-together tables and chairs, grandmotherly collection of plates providing the only decor. But you think: wait, why is this place so crowded? And then you realize that Bianca's pretty much ALWAYS packed, even with the lure of all of those hip-and-happening (and, often, legitimately first-rate) restaurants right around the corner on Bowery, like DBGB and The Wren, Peels and Hecho en Dumbo. So what gives?

 SSPNY looks over the whole Bianca menu filled with appealing and generously portioned choices, including the Fegatini con Aceto Balsamico. This time, we started off with the Carciofi Fritti, or salty crunch baby artichokes served with crispy fried parsley. Besides delicious food, most appetizers and pastas will also only ring you up in single-digit territory, with most fish and meat dishes only hitting the mid-teen price point.

I've been to Bianca many times over the years--the place opened in 2005--and have also enjoyed several great meals courtesy of its Upper West Side sister, Celeste. The prices, of course, are one reason Bianca is so popular, with most appetizers and pastas solidly in single-digit territory, and even the meat and fish dishes hitting only the mid-teens. How Chef Giancarlo Quadalti and his partner Roberta Riccioli pull this off, especially considering the generous portions at Bianca, and the many interesting dishes from Northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, is anyone's guess... but night after night, over the course of eight years, pull it off they do. I'm always vaguely concerned when first sitting down at one of their rickety tables (was this really as good as I'm remembering?), and every time, Bianca delivers. You could eat here once a week and not be disappointed.

 SSPNY next tried out one of the pasta options, with the plump Ravioli di Ricotta, served in a lake of butter sauce and topped with sage, chewy strands of Gramigna, a tomatoey sauce with crumbled sausage and bell peppers. If you had all three of these meals together, the bill would still only run you at about $43 after tip!

Anyway, the Bianca menu is filled with appealing choices, but I tend to get the same things again and again. The Fegatini con Aceto Balsamico, or balsamic-glazed chicken livers on toast, are unbelievably tender, a wonderful balance of earthy and sweet, with an acid bite to finish things off. Also always at my table is the Carciofi Fritti, salty, crunchy baby artichokes, served with a mound of crispy, hopelessly addictive fried parsley. Next up at Bianca is pasta, and there are plenty of good options. The plump Ravioli di Ricotta are served in a lake of butter sauce, topped with enough sage leaves to make a difference. And the thick, chewy strands of Gramigna are always well served by their tomatoey sauce of crumbled sausage and bell peppers. And if you ordered all of the above, which is a hefty dinner for two? You're looking at a check of about $43. With tip. Remarkable.

 Bianca is easily one of the most delicious and inexpensive Italian meals you'll have anywhere in the city. Technically located in NoHo, Bianca can be found on Bleecker Street between Bowery and Elizabeth Street, and is open every day at 5pm for dinner, with kitchen open until 11pm on Monday through Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and until 10:30pm on Sunday.

Bianca is located on Bleecker Street between Bowery and Elizabeth, which I realize is technically NoHo, but is also close enough to Nolita not to make a difference. Bianca is open every day at 5:00 p.m. for dinner, with the kitchen open until 11:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, until 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday, and until 10:30 on Sunday. More info and the complete Bianca menu can be found here.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita


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