Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to check out Girasole Restaurant in the quiet Upper East Side for some authentically delicious Italian food. Upon walking in, the Italian heritage was immediately evident with the super friendly waitstaff and owner, the charming atmosphere, the chatty diners, and – most importantly – the delicious food.
Starting off the meal was a nice basket of assorted breads: sliced baguettes, breadsticks, and pita-like bread topped with herbs. Also given to all diners is a side plate of cured meats, cheese, and veggies, a lovely addition to any meal to go along with their extensive wine list. To maximize the number of dishes we could try, my friend and I decided to share our main dishes as well. We told them ahead of time that we were going to share, and they kindly split everything into separate dishes ahead of time for us!
We ordered the spaghetti seafood with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and calamari. Seemingly simple enough, but you could tell that the herbs in the sauce and the seafood were all fresh.
I normally dislike veggies, but I’ve been on a broccoli rabe binge lately and decided to try that out. It was cooked in not too much oil with herbs to complement the bitterness of the rabe, and surrounded by slices of baked potatoes. Similar to homemade potato chips, but maintaining a little bit more of the flesh so it just had a nice crispy outer edge.
We also tried another interesting off-menu appetizer that was cabbage topped with fresh crab meat, mushrooms, and a vinaigrette dressing. The acidity really lifted the flavors of all the ingredients to wake and refresh you. For how tasty the dish was, I wish that it had some more color incorporated into the dish. Since all of the components happen to be different shades of beige, just having a pop of color amid everything would have really brightened up the dish.
For the next main dish, my friend and I were having disagreements on what to order. I wanted to be more adventurous and try the Quaglie Con Risotto (boneless quail with Italian rice) or the Scaloppine Di Vitello Ulivata (veal, fresh tomato, capers and pate of black olives). She wanted to try the Coniglio Cacciatore Con Polenta (farm raised rabbit with polenta), but I had ODed on too much polenta recently. Not being able to come to an agreement, we asked the waiter what he suggested. He recommended the lamb chops that were off-menu, and that we certainly could not turn down. The lamb retained its juicy deliciousness in every bite.
I was just about dying from over-eating, but who on earth could turn down Italian desserts?
This peach compote with gelato topped with orange and cinnamon was to die for! And what lovely presentation. Unfortunately, the gelato was melting very quickly, but that just means you have to eat it all the faster.
I love it when the top layer of hardened caramelized sugar is super thick and you have to whack at it with your spoon twice before it breaks. The custard was rich and smooth, melting with deliciousness right on your tongue. For other desserts, they had gelato, chocolate cake, cheesecake, and also homemade cookies and biscotti! For a few more of their tasty offerings, check out their recommended dishes here and a sample menu from Menupages here, but be sure to check out the restaurant for yourself to get the full list of incredible dishes.
Girasole is a great neighborhood restaurant that really takes care of their customers. There was a large birthday in the back for a grandmother and her extensive family that were enjoying themselves, but most other diners were paired off in smaller groups or pairs, making it appropriate for a casual date-night as well. The owner himself was there mingling with the regulars, and he has reported missed being at the restaurant for only one day since the restaurant’s opening in 1989. Talk about dedication!
It was a great dining experience with exception service and delicious food, so take a journey to the UES and check out Girasole Restaurant for yourself.
151 E. 82nd Street
btw. Lexington and 3rd Ave