With a name like Franco Gianni, it's hard to believe the man behind Adesso has built his restaurant reputation with sushi hits like Tank
and Sushi Wabi
. But with Adesso, Gianni returns to his Italian roots, as well as the roots of his executive chef, Alyson Nehran, who grew up in a Calabria-soaked neighborhood in Pennsylvania and whose husband was born and raised in Italy. Using family recipes, Nehran puts the focus squarely on cucina povera
, southern Italian cooking that spotlights simple ingredients, more from necessity than culinary creativity.
But before you imagine stale bread and thin gruel, step up to the no-nonsense lunch counter in this no-frills 32-seat restaurant and get your hands on one of Nehran's knockout toasted sandwiches, bursting with fresh mozzarella, red onion marmalade and white anchovies; fried, buttery arancino, made from risotto rice and stuffed with ground beef, peas and mozzarella; and the kid-friendly mac 'n cheese and panzerotti, lighter versions of calzones.
For dinner, get served at your seat with more grown-up dishes like braised short ribs with caramelized shallot polenta and papparedelle con ragu bianco, thick ribbon pasta served with light, smoky veal sauce. The roasted fig, prosciutto, fresh ricotta and honey bruschetta will have you wanting to shout a hearty grazie into the kitchen. BYOB.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Rockwood