February 16, 2004 | Ask Gael

Remind me of someone’s Italian grandma

        The team that charmed the Upper West Side with tiny Celeste has channeled the spirit of a Romagnese granny at Bianca, with its embroidered café curtains, milky walls, and country-cottage tchotchkes. Chef-owner Giancarlo Quadalti’s menu pays homage to his family’s kitchen with lasagna Emilia-Romagna-style (with béchamel and meat ragù) and a wonderfully chewy noodle called gramigna, studded with sausage and sweet red pepper. And he’ll be teaching the chef de cuisine to fry pastry pillows of gnocco to serve with fragrant imported charcuterie or lush and runny stracchino cheese, as the house signature. Mama’s passatelli in brodo are spaetzle-like curls of breadcrumb-Parmesan paste in chicken broth. Use the homey ciambella cake to scoop up exquisite waves of mascarpone. Like Celeste, Bianca takes no reservations or credit cards, and has underground prices as well as artisanal cheeses selected by Carmine, Celeste’s cheese whiz.

5 Bleecker Street 212 260 4666


Cafe Fiorello