Most New Yorkers share the mindset that this is the greatest city in the world (I, personally, agree- but that is neither here nor there). Regardless, we all have days when we could just use a break- from the chaos, from the people, from the craziness. Enter Gottino, an intimate Italian small-plates restaurant and wine bar with a remarkable talent for transforming simple, humble food into something incredible.
First, the wine: they offer a variety of different wines from around the world, and the servers, while not official sommeliers, are well-informed. They will gladly help you pick out something if you’re unsure of what you want or like. Yet despite its emphasis on the wine (Gottino, my server taught me, is actually the name for the little glass for house wine historically served in Italy), the food is the real star at this restaurant.
The menu is categorically divided into sections: cheese plates, cured meats, vegetables, meat dishes, crostini, and fish. After looking over the menu, my friend and I decided it would be best to order one dish from each category of meat, fish, vegetables, and crostini, all of which are presented family-style, to encourage sharing and emphasize a sense of community. It was all incredible, but my personal favorite was the crostini (Italian for “toast”), slathered with a rich and fresh-tasting arugula pesto and garnished with a dollop of creamy bufala mozzarella.
We also sampled thick, sweet glazed pork ribs that were literally falling off the bone (seriously, a carnivore’s dream); a bitter, nutty, and creamy salad of raddichio, pine nuts, currants, and goat cheese; and a unique and surprisingly light spread made out of baccala whipped with olive oil and served simply with grilled bread. And of course, dessert (come on- did you expect anything less)? Though the restaurant offered a variety of sweet meal-enders (some light, others downright sinful), my friend and I both have a place in our hearts for Nutella and thus opted for a Nutella-mascarpone spread served with sugar-dusted grilled bread. Decadence at its best. But heads up: don’t order this if you lack self control- we were straight up eating it with a spoon at one point without shame.
Aside from the unbelievable food, Gottino offers a welcome escape from the crazy in its ambience: quiet and intimate inside, and airy, open, and homey in the outdoor garden. If the weather allows, I highly recommend waiting to dine alfresco: quiet, charming, and relaxing, its almost like having an elegant dinner in your own suburban backyard, but better (case in point: when I commented on how relaxing it was sitting outside and not being assaulted with street noise, my friend looked shocked and said “Oh my God- I forgot we were in New York!”). The food prices are reasonable, the food is incredible, and the lack of pretention is unheard of for a restaurant of this caliber in the city. Good food, good wine, and good company- what more could you ask for?
52 Greenwich Ave (at Perry st.), New York, NY, 10014. (212) 633-2590. 1 to Christopher St. or 123 to 14th street. Mon-Fri 8am-2am, Sat-Sun 11am-2am. Accepts major credit cards. Small plates $6-$14.