Last week Devon and I stumbled upon a fantastic restaurant! I had to share. After a very long day for the both of us, we decided to meet up in Soho and do a little window-shopping and then grab dinner. Of course there is truly no such thing as window-shopping and I ended up making some Victoria’s Secret purchases while she bought some new leather boots that go up to the knee. I have already borrowed them, I love sharing closets! Anyways, after walking down Broadway looking at shops we decided to wander the neighborhood to find a fun place to eat. We chose this exploration method as opposed to going on some online database to help us decide, as so many people do today. I think it’s really important to discover places on your own. I like doing this because not only do I get a sense of character for the neighborhood I explore, but then my discoveries feel special, as if they are my secret wonderful place. This time I have decided to share my secret discovery.
As we wandered through Nolita, we saw many interesting choices, but then noticed a side street with a small shop that looked to be quite busy. It was about forty degrees and dark outside yet the patio seating was completely full! We ventured closer to investigate. We were immediately struck by the creative, eclectic menu and made the decision to dine there. The restaurant was called Café Gitane and it was on 242 Mott Street. It was a small and cozy restaurant with a bistro feel. It was also completely packed with people. My step dad taught me that it doesn’t matter what type of food I want to eat but instead to always go somewhere that has a lot of people inside. If there are a lot of people, I can be sure that it is great restaurant. Café Gitane was no exception; this restaurant is obviously a neighborhood favorite. Though the café was completely full, there happened to be one small empty table right by the wall as if it was meant for us. We scanned the menu and ended up sharing an appetizer and two entrees. I love that Devon and I have generally the same taste in food. Neither of us can ever decide what to order so it works out perfectly that we usually end up splitting two dishes between ourselves. This time, we ordered Baked pasta with roasted tomatoes and gorgonzola, and spicy organic meatballs in turmeric tomato sauce with boiled egg, cucumber-yogurt and cilantro. We also ordered an appetizer of Avocado, lemon juice, chili flakes and olive oil on a thick seven-grain toast. The appetizer was very refreshing and smooth. The avocado was creamy with a zesty kick from the lemon and an added spiciness from the chili. Both the meatballs and the pasta came out bubbling in hot, heavy skillets. The pasta was extremely comforting. My mouth is watering right now as I think about the melted cheeses and the crusted top layer, crisp from baking. The meatballs were probably my favorite part. (Not surprising) These were not average Italian meatballs but were instead a more middle-eastern rendition of the classic. The cucumber-yogurt really complimented the tomato sauce.
Finally, Devon and I were convinced into trying some Martini Bianco on the rocks per recommendation of the waitress. The drink was advertised as being a blend of over twenty different herbs and with a hint of vanilla. I have to say I have honestly never tasted anything like it. The drink complimented our meal and I liked it but the only way I can think to describe the taste is to compare the drink to how a roasted chicken tastes….all of the herbs that one would use to flavor a Parisian roasted chicken were definitely present in the Martini Bianco.
I definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants to have a relaxing night with good friends and a great meal. The atmosphere was both vibrant and intimate at the same time. There was a good type of crowd and the restaurant played an unusually amazing blend of music. The café played everything from 90’s R&B to classic 80’s songs to modern rap music. I was pretty surprised but content nevertheless. I sang and danced along in my chair to most of the songs. All I must warn is that Café Gitane is a cash only venue, which is really a small inconvenience compared to the experience you will have.