Eight years ago I took my first trip to NYC. Seven years ago my world turned upside down when a dear friend introduced me to Bianca and her lasagna. Thus began a decade-long affair. (SADDEST UPDATE EVER – As of Fall 2015, Bianca has closed. Dang NYC rent!!! I hope my friends find a new location soon …)
Perhaps my judgement was clouded because my previous lasagna experiences were of the frozen, college-dining-hall or large-chain-restaurant variety. Maybe I was swayed by the awesomely cheap prices ($12 or less for homemade pasta? In NYC??) at this cash-only, no-reservations spot. Perhaps I got caught up in the atmosphere – feeling like I was sitting in an Italian friend’s grandmother’s candlelit kitchen with 30 loud cousins. Maybe I was charmed by the maitre d’, sweet waitresses with Eastern European accents and lightning-fast busboys – who would treat me to dessert, keep grating fresh parmesan over the pasta as I told them to “make it snow,” and seat my friends and me even before a certain pint-sized, billionaire twin arrived with her posse.
Over the years I accessorized the lasagna with orders of the gnocco fritto appetizer – puffy, fried dough whose sole purpose was to be a vessel to get the most delicious, creamy, truffle-oil-covered stracchino cheese to your mouth. Even the surprisingly light tiramisu with dreamy espresso sauce won me over.
I dated around – sometimes it was the seafood pasta (special request with tagliatelle instead of tagliolini), gramigna with sausage, vegetable lasagnette or salmon.
I thought that after years of eating out in some of the best restaurants in NYC, San Francisco and Italy my infatuation would dissipate.
But in the end, it was always Bianca, and always her lasagna.
Bianca, 5 Bleecker St (near corner of Bowery St; NoHo/East Village)