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The Early Word on Shea Gallante Comeback Ciano

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Shea Gallante, who, during his five years at Cru, made them on of the standout restaurants in New York City, is back. This time around, he's the co-owner and chef of Ciano, a rustic Italian restaurant in the old Beppe space. Fans of his have come in since its opening earlier this month, wanting to see if he's still got the chops. Does he or has he lost a step or two during his time away from New York City? To the early word:

The Memorable News: A Tiger In The Kitchen lets the title of her post say it all - "Ciano: A Night to Remember." Why? "The little plates will charm you. Besides the polpette, the arancini ($6 for 4) are a must. The tiny bites come hot -- so nibble carefully -- and the pockets of creamy rice within are divine. And did I mention that the bread is a compulsory? It's lovely enough on its own but the truffled butter served with it must not be missed." But what really makes this glowing review is the veal meatballs. "But the true star -- the dish that will have you waking up the next morning craving it like a drug -- is the roasted veal meatballs ($18) served on a bed of creamy white polenta and truffle pecorino. The flavor of these is intense, packed with umami and a distinct richness that makes you wonder and then immediately not want to know how much fat is in these balls." [A Tiger In The Kitchen]

The "Not Inexpensive" News: New York Journal visits and generally likes his time there but does come away with some qualms. It's certainly not the wine, noting that the program here is well-run and that they sell "a slew of wines by the half-bottle — the majority of the list, in fact. And we’re not talking about the cheap stuff, either. Real wines of interest, bottles with age, are available by the half, at 50 percent of the bottle price." The roasted veal meatballs - "tenderest that I’ve had in a long time, so smooth they could have been Kobe beef" and the gnocchi - "a creamy delight" - were hits but the pork roast, while excellent, raised some concerns about the restaurant's message. "Gallante is clearly sourcing the best beef. With a Barolo vinegar and grilled maitake mushroom sauce, he isn’t stinting on the other ingredients. But diners may ask, “What’s with $32 for pork shoulder?”" The lamp chops didn't fare as well. "So rare that I thought they could still “Baaaaa,” and that’s a lot of money ($33) for two measly chops." [New York Journal]

The "Happy Vegetarian" News: The Lonely Vegetarian gets over her apprehension about visiting a restaurant in its early days and has a great time. Points are given for both decor and service. "The setting is delightfully rustic - wood panels and exposed brick walls add to the charm of what is already an enticing little space... Our waitress was with us almost instantly and she was an absolute delight. She was careful enough to notice that not everyone on the table had had a chance to order drinks at the bar and was also considerate enough to inquire about dietary restrictions even before we ordered." Don't worry, the food is good too. "The salad of rainbow beets with whipped robiola, watercress and balsamic was fantastic though, given the name, I was expecting a little more variety of color among my beets. The cheese, however, was amazingly smooth and made wiping the beets through them an absolute joy... The gnocchi was some of the best I have eaten - light, airy, and subtle enough that the potato was not the only taste in your mouth." [The Lonely Vegetarian]

The Excellent News: Chowhounder owlwoman loved everything about her experience here. "The bread coming out of that stove is amazing, you could make a whole meal out of it, especially with the ricotta spread that accompanies it, but we did restrain and ordered salads to start, the caesar was another "wow", the anchovies were tender and not that salty... For mains, we all had different pastas with the exception of one friend who ordered the roast chicken, who shared. That roast chicken was tender and cooked to perfection... I had the pasta with the duck bolanese, very rich but good, my husband has gnocchis in a butter/black truffle sauce, which were good, but not the most wow, our other two friends had the pasta with sausage and the ravioli, both cleaned their plates. For dessert we shared a tiramisu, which was semi-frozen, we wiped the plate clean."At $300 for five people, it's not cheap but she thinks " it was reasonable for the quality, service, etc., will definitely go back." [CH]

The "Unexpected Upcharge" News: Yelper Scott W. had a pretty good meal. "Once we sat down we started off with bread which we dipped in the truffle butter. Simple, but amazing. We then continued the meal with the veal meatballs which were also fantastic. Tender, juicy, and overflowing with flavor. For our main course I ordered potato gnocchi and my date ordered the pork shoulder. The server recommended white truffles for the gnocchi which I opted for. The dishes arrived and were delicious." Actually, it sounds more like a great meal. So why only give them two stars? "When the bill arrived I saw a $75.00 charge for white truffles. I was very surprised to see this as I hadn't requested the white truffles when I ordered, the waitress simply suggested them after I had turned in my menu. She did this with absolutely zero mention of an up-charge. To me this is less about the cost and more about being deceived with no notification of the change in price." He's had little luck with management since, leaving him with this last lament. "Had this not gone as it did I would give Ciano glowing recommendations. Sad to say the customer service ruined an otherwise pleasant experience." [Yelp]

The "Bad Service, Good Food" News: Fellow Yelper George G. offers up a mixed review. He appears to have been turned off by the service, at least as the outset of the meal. "Regarding service, there was a blurred line between snooty and unprepared. After declining the hostess to check our coats, we were asked by two other employees after, having to continue to decline. I was taken back that they tried the flat or sparkling water trick, never offering tap. Very unprofessional and pompous." But the food seems to help turn the corner on that rough start. "The veal meatballs are amazing... The Pappardelle with duck bolognese was great. The Crispy Skin Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with a ragu of chanterelle mushrooms & farro was a great choice. The chicken was very tender, and the sides complimented it well, although it could have used a little more flavor from the sauce." At the end comes a hopeful note. "Overall, the place can turn around to be a hit if they tweak some of their new restaurant bugs." [Yelp]
—Gary Wong

Ciano

45 East 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010 Visit Website

45 East 22nd St., New York, NY

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