Bianca (The Restaurant not the Person)

In lieu of my mom’s birthday I thought I’d write about her favorite restaurant, which just happens to be called the same thing as my parents favorite daughter. 

It’s me! Bianca!  

Located down Bleecker Street (the best street in NYC in my opinion) this gem of a restaurant is beautifully decorated; simple and sweet. Everything is white, the walls are lined with a gorgeous, yet subtle display of plates and flowers. The space is small but you don’t have to sit as close to the table next to you as you would think. When you walk in you get the feeling that can only be described as “Coming Home’. That is, if your home is in Florence, Italy and your mom is known for cooking Italian feasts.

The first time we sat down at Bianca and looked at the menu we weren’t sure what to do. We wanted to try every plate there was, but how embarrassing that would be indeed! Instead we each picked a plate, three appetizers and a bottle of red wine. I’ll only list them out below because we’ve gone back over 5 times and always get the same thing.

Appetizers: Gnocco Fritto (You have too!), Chicken Liver Deglazed with aged Balsamic Vinegar TIMES 2. (I get that the word liver scares you but you also have too!

Entrees: Gnocci con Fromagio (Gorgonzola), Spaghettini al Pomodoro, Tagliolini al Frutti di Mare, Lasagna, Straccetti di Manzo (Filet Mignon).

Dessert: Tiramisu, Chocolate Mousse Cake glazed in a bitter sweet chocolate ganache. 

I have to admit the appetizers are our favorite part. The Gnocco Fritto is a very typical Italian dish but it’s rarely found in Italian restaurants. Especially this well done! If you like Gorgonzola cheese, you should get the Gnocci con Fromagio with extra napkins because chances are you will be trying to lick the sauce off the plate. It’s what I get/do and I’m not embarrassed to admit it.

Not one plate is ever left with food on it, or sauce for that matter. It’s amazing what a family of five can consume… or maybe it’s only our family. My Dad loves it because it’s guaranteed he’ll be able to use his favorite joke. ”We didn’t like it too much” he’ll say to the waiter clearing our empty plates. Half the time they get it, half the time they don’t but he always takes the chance and I actually do think it’s funny.

What I’m trying to say is go to Bianca. Now! Run! No, seriously speaking take your time but get there at 5pm when they open because it will be packed with people by 6pm and they don’t take reservations. Or credit cards, cash only. But don’t fret about the cash, as my mom always says as we walk home, “I feel like we just robbed them”.

Rustic Inn and Its World Famous Garlic Crabs

If you’ve ever been to Fort Lauderdale, Florida you probably didn’t go to Rustic Inn but you certainly should have!

It’s a World Famous Crab House with World Famous Garlic Crabs. I know, I know, this ‘World Famous’ adjective gets thrown around a lot in the restaurant Business (Elf scene comes to mind) but it really is the greatest crab related food I’ve had. I’ve only ever gone with family, in large groups and wouldn’t go any other way. It’s a place you go when you know you want to get your hands dirty. Don’t even try to check your phone because you won’t be able to (And if you do your phone will feel/smell like crab for a long time). Also it’s very hard to hold the cup of whatever it is you’re drinking so make sure to place your drink near by and ask for multiple straws. You will understand when it’s happening.

We have always stuck to ordering the Garlic Crabs in overwhelmingly large quantities with a couple of Ceaser Salads and Loraine’s Famous Linguini to share. I’m sure everything on the menu is great – but why fix something that’s not broken (Is that how the saying goes?).

One of my favorite parts of eating at Rustic Inn is using my eating utensils as hammers for some good ol’ noise making. Every so often you will hear an announcement: Birthday, Engagement, Graduation, a Lottery Win, whatever! All you need to do once the speaker comes on is find as many hammers as possible and begin slamming the table. Hard. I’m not sure why I love this so much but ugh, it’s good.

One last thing, please do wear your apron that is kindly provided by the wait staff. Have your friends/family/significant other help you tie it or do it your self if you can but do use it. You’ll need it, I promise. If crab meat isn’t flying toward your beautiful white shirt from the person to the front, right or left it’s coming from the table next to you or across the gorgeous back porch you’re sitting in. Actually, I recommend asking for two aprons: one facing the front, one for the back.

Good luck!