At the heart of the East Village is a gastrointestinal treasure in true New York fashion. For the last 20 years, Gnocco has served fine Emilia-Romagna food from pizza and pasta to their namesake Gnocco. The dishes are old-school, nostalgic recreations of the owner’s childhood favorites back in Modena, Italy. Now, after 20 years, Gnocco has modernized, adding vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, as well as intuitive touchscreen tablet menus for all guests. But the passion for the authentic hasn’t changed.
The best place to see the heart of Gnocco is in its namesake dish. For the uninitiated, Gnocco is a street food made of fried, flaky dough puffs and served with a plate of Italian cold cuts. It is a sweet, simple appetizer that Owner/Executive Chef Gian Luca Giovanetti explains was a favorite snack for Italian grandparents to give grandkids. In Italy, gnocco pulls double duty: it can be a snack, but also a delicious dessert treat if you put powdered sugar on it instead of cold cuts.
Gnocco–the food and the place–is the definition of delicious simplicity. It is unpretentious, warm, and quintessentially Italian. The restaurant follows suit: There are no tablecloths, no stuffy outfits for waiters. And the waiters take that spirit to heart: our sweater-wearing waiter sat down with us to lovingly explain his favorite dishes and to point out the long list of can’t miss dishes we just had to try. And it was all authentic–the recommendations and the food itself. If they did not make it at home in Modena, you won’t see it here: no spaghetti and meatballs or fettuccine alfredo. Don’t worry: you won’t miss them.
The front of the restaurant is small–a narrow hallway of a place with modern art and a few plants. If you are looking for light food and drinks at the bar, it is perfect. But head to the back and you get the real treat: a glass-roofed garden with more expansive seating and natural lighting. The walls are covered in greenery and decorated with a classical Italian feel. When the sun goes down, the lights go on, keeping with the garden atmosphere without any of the cold. Pro tip: this is also where they keep a healthy-sided wine rack.
When we sat down, Giovanetti told us that Gnocco had a “dish for every day of the week,” but that was not quite true. There was a dish for every day of this week and for two weeks after that. Rather than a traditional cardstock menu, or the plastic-cased menu booklets, Gnocco’s menu comes on a tablet. Scroll down the list, or click on each dish for a gorgeous picture and description. Plus, every single menu item comes with a wine recommendation.
And the food was excellent. If this is what everyone in Giovanetti’s hometown was cooking, I would be surprised if anyone who grew up there wouldn’t want to be a chef. Gnocco’s pizzas are delicious, thin-crust delicacies unlike anything else you are getting in NYC. A couple of them are recognizable as something you’d see in a pizza shop. Most are something else entirely. My favorite was the Tartufata: Fresh mozzarella, truffle sauce, mushrooms, and speck. It was savory and decadent, with the truffle sauce infusing flavor without overwhelming the taste. This might be one of the best pizzas you will get in the city, and one of the most unconventional.
Their pasta dishes are likewise dedications to Northern Italian cooking traditions. Remember, we’re not talking spaghetti. Every shape, every sauce, is unique and delicious. The Maccheroni al Torchio is a house favorite: Homemade whole wheat Maccheroni pasta with braised parma prosciutto, arugula, and a light touch of cream. It is a little heavy, but it is packed with flavor, mixing sweet with the savory of the prosciutto. If you are looking for something sweeter, check out their Pumpkin Ravioli Ragout, with a slightly sweet butternut squash filling mixed with Parmigiano-Reggiano, nutmeg, and Amaretti cookies. It is very nearly a dessert.
For 20 years, Gnocco has blended a home kitchen taste and feel with fine-dining flavors and wine selection. Whether you are looking for brunch, lunch, dinner, or just drinks, Gnocco is ready with some of the best, most authentic Italian in New York.
LOCATION: 337 East 10th Street, New York, NY 10009
INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK: @gnoccony
Monday -Thursday: 11am – 11pm
Friday: 11am-12am; Saturday: 11:30am-12am; Sunday: 11:30am-11pm
Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 11:30am-4:45pm
Delivery & Take Out: Delivery and pickups are available through the restaurant as well as GrubHub, Seamless, SliceLife, DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, Delivery.com and they have their own delivery platform on the website powered by 9fold.