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The Early Word on Papa Gaga's Joanne Trattoria

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Earlier this month, chef Art Smith and Lady Gaga’s dad Joe Germanotta opened Joanne Trattoria on the Upper West Side with a bar up front, a patio in back, and a cozy dining room that seats 70. The restaurant’s menu features recipes from the house of Gaga as well as chef Art’s take on traditional Italian dishes (expect a Southern twist). By now we’ve all heard what the Post’s Steve Cuozzo had to say about the restaurant on opening night, but according to the early word from Facebookers, Tweeters, Yelpers, and bloggers, his scathing review may have been premature:

The Overpriced News: Gael Greene sympathizes with the Germanottas about the slam they received from the Post on opening night but is worried about the restaurant: “I'm afraid the service is still lame, though every time Cynthia Germanotta came to our table, we succumbed to her charm. It's the kitchen Art Smith (an Oprah discovery) should be worrying about. Aside from the fine focaccia, a lush lasagna (too small, too pricey) and my $38 veal osso bucco, much needs to be reconsidered. Okay, the meatballs and spaghetti were fine - but $23? I've had wonderful food cooked by Art Smith in the heat of competition on Top Chef Masters. Art, what can you do?” [Fork Play]

The Good News: The lone Zagat reviewer gives her meal a thumbs up: "Met the owner, Cynthia, who was lovely and engaged. Food is amazing. Service is quick. Decor is very friendly. Traditional italian fare with a twist. Comfortable ambiance. If you can get in..worth it." [Zagat]

The Great Service, Okay Food News: A Yelper enjoyed the ambiance, but wasn’t impressed by the food: “Went here on a Sunday night with a group of nine girls. The atmosphere and service were fantastic. They gave us a large table in a dining nook with a small window into the kitchen that made us feel warm and welcome. The waitstaff, hostess, and owner were all attentive and friendly. The food, however, was nothing special at all. If I am not asking for bread to dunk into the sauce, then you know there is something wrong. I'm a little bit of an Italian food snob, but everyone else at the table was somewhat disappointed with their meals as well. I would consider giving it a third star and another shot, but the food is SO overpriced that I am sticking to my 2-star rating. I would probably only go back for a glass of wine with the foccacia bread at the bar.” [Yelp]

The Over the Top Rave: Another Yelp review is extremely detailed and suspiciously enthusiastic. Here's an excerpt: “We were very very impressed with every aspect of Joanne.?That evening, we ordered: Cynthia's chopped antipasti-delicious and refreshing; Polenta with grilled seafood-My favorite! There were 2 grilled whole calamari on top which were cooked PERFECTLY! I've been eating polenta my whole life, and this was just amazing; Joanne's Mac and cheese- WE WENT NUTS FOR THIS. The combo of cheeses used in it was UNBELIEVABLE. It's worth it to go here just for the mac and cheese!!! My mouth is watering just thinking about it! On the menu, this is listed as a "side",but you can totally make a meal of it; Potato Lasagna- CHEF ART IS A GENIUS for creating this! SOOO GOOD! Reminded me of a cross between scalloped potatoes au gratin and lasagna. Instead of using lasagna noodle to layer, they use potatoes....I LOVED THIS. Again, very nice portion?For dinner my wife and I chose Papa G's chicken with peperoncini which was OUT OF THIS WORLD. "[Yelp]

The Short but Sweet News: A Facebook fan is a happy camper: "Visited this restaurant last weekend for the first time. LOVE IT! Food was excellent. Met the owner and chef, very nice people. Even the barstaff was fantastic. The decor has heart. Will definitely go back when in the city...fun time." [Facebook]

The Lukewarm News: Another Yelper liked the food but won't be returning anytime soon: “A group of 4 of us went to Joanne's for dinner and it actually was better than I expected. The space is nice althought the front area is still a bit tight to navigate. The wine list is reasonable and only Italian. We ordered the meatballs and the broccolini with pancetta. The meatballs were great and I would not have minded that for dinner. I didn't try the broccolini but my friends agreed it was tasty. For our main entre, we ordered the Papa G's Chicken and the Oso Busco both of which were quite good. While the hostess managing the reservations needs a bit more experience, our server was fantastic...Overall, it is a good local spot but if it wasn't in my neighborhood, I wouldn't make a big effort to go." [Yelp]

The Great News: An Urbanspoon user is an early fan: “We had a great time at Joanne on Saturday. The dinners were superb (rib eye and spaghetti with Joanne's meatballs and Sunday gravy), and reasonably priced (the prix fix is a great deal), but what stood out was the atmosphere. My love and I both agree that the place is truly a labor of love. From the seating of four girls without a reservation (and a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday") to Cynthia coming out and greeting guests, it struck as wonderful that the Germanottas are able to live their dream because of their daughter's good fortune and generosity. There is a difference between a restaurant that overly concerned with costs and the bottom line and this one, which seems to be a true labor of love. We will defintely be back the next time we are in the area. Great food, price, service, and atmosphere.” [Urbanspoon]

The Fantastic News: Nelson Aspen, an Upper West Sider and entertainment reporter/celebrity interviewer digs it: “They got it just right! 'Joanne Trattoria' (Joanne is Gaga’s actual middle name) is an unpretentious, welcome addition to the area. We loved our visit from the moment we walked in to the bustling bar?complete with a fireplace blazing on a chilly winter’s night. We were warmly welcomed and taken to a table overlooking the patio?red brick, candlelight, happy Gothamites and a friendly attentive waiter who was chatty and enthusiastic. The menu includes many family recipes from Gaga’s own grandmother and we scarffed down an amazing focaccia appetizer before settling down to the business of deciding on a main course. She went for the Vegetarian Lasagna, I happily opted for Tony’s Orechiette and a glass of excellent Pinot Grigio. We shared a side order of the Mac n’ Cheese and were delighted with all three. By the end, we were so full that half the Mac n’ Cheese ended up coming home with me in a doggy bag! And?no room for dessert (next time!)." [Nelson’s World]

The Rave: A tipster recommends a few dishes on Foursquare, but is especially psyched about one item: “Try the Chef Art's Southern Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce - What a great dessert!! I can go for some right about now!!” [Foursquare]

More Good News: Koran Kendig (a big Lady Gaga fan) went to Joanne’s on opening night and was blown away: “The focaccia bread that we got when we are seated was fresh and delicious. I ordered the Spaghetti with Sunday Gravy and Joanne’s Meatballs; the meatballs melt in your mouth and the sauce was tomato-y goodness. I also had the Italian Greens (Broccoli Rabe) with pancetta which was great and cooked just right. Joanne’s Macaroni and Cheese, which I split with three friends, is most definitely not for anyone prone to lactose intolerance?5 Italian cheeses, penne pasta and who knows what else. It was melt-in-your-mouth fabulousness. I highly recommend trying it. For dessert we split the Southern Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce which was delicious as well. I had a bite of my friend’s Vegetable Lasagna and I can say without a doubt as a non-lover of lasagna that I will most definitely get this when I return next time, which may be next week." [West Side Rag]

And Some Love from the Twitterverse: @MaraJade42 tweets a rave review: “legit just had the best spaghetti and meatballs I have ever had at Joanne's! Thank you so much to everyone there!” Another fan @richarddoria notes: “Just finished a FANTASIC dinner at #JoanneTrattoria. Thanks to @chefartsmith for the amazing food, and the Limoncello Prosecco drink!” [Twitter]

— Claire Nugent

Joanne Trattoria

70 West 68 Street, New York, NY 10023 Visit Website

Joanne Trattoria

70 West 68th St., New York, NY

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