Went to Joanne Trattoria on W68th and Columbus last Thursday evening.
menu is here:
We walked in at 6pm and, although we did not have a reservation and it was very crowded, they graciously seated us against the high tables along the kitchen counter. Well, we soon learned it was the best seat in the house, although the back room is extremely cozy and I loved the prospect of sitting in their outdoor area when it is warmer.
I immediately felt at home for many reasons (a rarity for me but the aesthetics were just perfect as was the overall vibe) and every staff member was a delight - totally professional and genuinely friendly. We chatted with the very friendly and entertaining kitchen staff as we watched them prepare the meals. They had such a great sense of humor even though they were standing in front of an oven that was set at 598 degrees F. They filled us in about the new, upcoming desserts, tiramisu included.
Art Smith chatted with us several times, and graciously served us our dessert . He was a big presence in the restaurant - chatting with customers and pitching in on the floor.
I can't even think of one negative to say about the service. Water glasses were refilled regularly (with ICE - big plus for me) . They allowed us to linger without any signs of resentment despite the crowds and, when I asked if I could just order a side dish instead of an entree, I was told, without hesitation, that we would never be forced to place a minimum order. It was all perfect, and this was well before the Germonattas walked in and sat at the next table.
Now for the food . The antipasti salad was fabulous - countless little treasures chopped up together onto one plate - veggies, meat and cheese. I never had a salad like this with so much variety. Although we did not order the salumi and cheese board, many people did and it looked amazing and large! The $8 side dish of mac and cheese was probably the best mac and cheese I've had in a very long time, if not ever. They completely agreed with my request to make it crispy and out came a piping hot, white casserole dish of mac and cheese - crispy yet creamy with the perfect balance of flavor, and
a variety of cheese types and cream. It was a large order for a side dish. OH YUM!! I will be back for that, and Iater realized the Germanottas ordered it as well.
My friend ordered the spaghetti and meatballs which was served in a deep, white bowl with a big meatball on top. It was not soaked in sauce. She loved it. Yup, $23 is pricey. I cannot argue that but one could save $7 by ordering the $8 penne pasta side dish and the $8 meatball side dish , served on an adorable cast iron skillet . Few restaurants would offer this less expensive option so another big thumbs up in that respect and, remember, there is no minimum. I was not crazy for the taste of the sauce (although my friend really liked it), more likely because it was different than the sauce prepared in my own Italian household growing up. This doesn't mean it was bad. It's just a personal taste thing with me as I am very finicky about sauce. The meatball was too soft but it was huge and really good otherwise. Bread pudding with bourbon sauce (also ordered by the Germanottas) was beyond amazing and I normally do not eat bread pudding. Oh, and the wood oven-baked focaccia served hot with crispy grated cheese and fresh onions was amazing, and they were very generous with refills. Here's a photo: http://www.foodspotting.com/places/34...
It was also nice to chat with Mrs. Germanotta (and offer her an array of well-deserved compliments) who made her rounds and stopped by our table before departing. She also graciously chatted with customers (of all ages) who couldn't resist stopping by their table as they dined.
Quality Italian food is almost non-existent . I am so glad this place opened in my neighborhood. I wish them well and hope their quality, enthusiasm and talents do not decline over time.
70 W 68th St, New York, NY 10023