Piadina and gelato at Gradisca

Bologna native Massimo Galeano named his Greenwich Village hideaway for the vivacious beauty in Federico Fellini’s 1973 movie Amarcord, and Gradisca lives up to its namesake in every way. Sexy is the only word to describe the candlelit, subterranean space, with its exposed brick, wide-plank floors, and bloodred walls. Hot would be about right for the alluringly tattooed and disarmingly friendly server. And devil-may-care would sum up the group of stylish young Italians who saunter across the dining room and then back again after enjoying yet another smoke on the tree-lined sidewalk out front. As for the food—the centerpiece of which is the traditional pasta made fresh by Galeano’s own mamma—that would do with anything from seductive or satisfying to just plain delicious. Buzzing with laughter, with every imaginable accent, and with the clinking-glass sound of a particularly memorable night on the town, Gradisca epitomizes all that’s good in life—without ever trying the least bit too hard.

sweet seats

When the weather’s fine, nab a café table in the small courtyard nestled amid the brownstones of leafy 13th Street. That said, it doesn’t get much more romantic than slipping farther down into the candlelit interior from a snowy sidewalk.

chew on this

Regulars make serious use of the private dining room, which can seat up to 35 and has all the old-world charm of the main space. (There is a minimum charge for private parties.)


Sun.–Thurs. 5:30 PM–11 PM; Fri.–Sat. 5:30 PM–11:30 PM

price range

$20 (cavatelli with eggplant and ricotta) to $32 (branzino)