You know you’ve been living/blogging in NYC for a long time when you walk into a restaurant and feel like you had been there before…when it was a different restaurant. I visited Galli recently in Soho, and I remembered this space from when it was Lizarran, a tapas place that was actually quite good. That said, I don’t mind change, so I was open to embracing Galli, a cute spot that touts itself as “Italian comfort food”. Those words are music to my ears…and stomach.
I can say with confidence that the food definitely speaks to the Italian comfort food theme, but the drinks really don’t. Please note that I don’t mean this in a negative way – the drinks were very good, but they were a little mixology-inspired as opposed to Grandma-inspired. Hardly a problem, but just pointing out the inconsistency. Moving on…
I love when I go to a restaurant and they take something classic that no one really messes with, and then they mess with it just enough to make it new and exciting. Galli has mastered this with their Mad Calamari. Here’s all it is: same ol’ fried calamari that you’re used to, but tossed lightly in a spicy (and I mean spicy) marinara sauce. Delicious. Simple. And a must order.
Another classic Italian starter that we felt we had to try was the baked clams. I don’t really like clams, but honestly, these clams were loaded with butter and herbed bread crumbs. You could put that mixture on roadkill and I’d probably eat it. Given that reasoning, I let Tom, my Italian taste-tester for the night, be the judge of the clams. He gave them the thumbs up. Sold!
One of my favorite appetizers in the WORLD are stuffed mushrooms. Galli’s Magic Mushrooms are baked and stuffed Oreganata style (similar to the clam stuffing) with bread crumbs, herbs, and lemon juice. These are awesome AND they’re vegetarian – I didn’t know something without bacon could be so tasty? Mind = blown.
If you’re in a restaurant like Galli, you’re going to want to try pasta. Let me rephrase that: you HAVE TO try the pasta. There’s a whole section of the menu dedicated to the different types of pastas and they ALL sound delicious. The Pasta Carbonara, to be exact, is a good example of deliciousness. This dish is probably the most comforting of the “Italian comfort food”. Pasta carbonara is spaghetti with pancetta, pecorino cheese, egg, cream, and peas. Sounds light, right? Yea. Sarcasm at it’s finest. I do that. The pasta was great, but it needed just a dash or two of salt. I hate when food is underseasoned, but it’s one of those things that’s pretty easily fixable. I’d take under-salted over OVER-salted any day.
If you’re going to eat a politically incorrect piece of meat like veal, let it be in this form: Saltimbocca. Love saltimbocca. Take any piece of protein cutlet (but it’s usually veal or chicken), put a piece of sage leaf on top, wrap it in prosciutto, and either pan fry or sautee. It’s…delicious. Galli’s version is not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s very good. No complaints from either of us.
A little too drunk and full by this point, we had to skip dessert. Like I said before, pasta carbonara is one of the heaviest pastas you can have. Expect to take some of it home, and fall asleep in the cab on the way there. Hopefully Galli lasts longer than Lizarran did – I would go back just for the calamari and the drinks. The crowd was lively too, so I can see this becoming a regular spot for Soho locals and not-so locals.
45 Mercer St (btwn Broome and Grand)