Pistola
 
 

Casanova combines standout steaks and house-made pastas

By Joshua Lurie

The front door reads benvenuti—“welcome,” in Italian—and this new restaurant from Gusto chef Vic Casanova does just that in the best of ways, melding classic style with timely swank. In the former A.O.C space near The Original Farmer’s Market, you’re greeted by black seating and white-clothed tables, a marble bar and a flat-screen TV, and muted classic movies that find accompaniment in old soul songs and Sinatra.

When he was at Culina, Casanova competed against Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian in Battle Brook Trout. And while it’s possible to order Dover sole or jumbo shrimp scampi here at Pistola, most guests are coming for the steak. Considering the impending meat-quake, take some time easing into your meal. Casanova makes an especially good Caesar salad, with tangy lemon-anchovy vinaigrette clinging to crisp baby romaine lettuce. Capers, sharp shaved Parmigiano, and forgiving croutons provide contrast.

Arancini “cacio e pepe” is a fun play on a classic pasta preparation, with golden carnaroli risotto croquettes seasoned with Pecorino and black pepper and served in Pecorino fonduta with clipped chives. You’d also be remiss to skip house-made pasta. Spaghetti fra diavolo involves thick, chewy noodles tossed with spicy tomato, garlic, and basil sauce and plump pieces of sweet Maine lobster.

And then there is the steak. Whether the flatiron, hanger, or hulking bone-in tomahawk, you can expect USDA Prime beef from Kansas. Each cut receives a dry rub of sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika, delivering an inviting red hue. The Delmonico is a particularly good option, an 18-ounce, bone-in New York strip that’s dry-aged for 28 days. After being grilled and broiled, it's plated with a drizzle of olive oil and topped with baby arugula. Simple sides include broccolini, wild mushrooms, and creamy polenta.

To drink, Pistola features a well-considered list of wines and a selection of cocktails made with seasonal ingredients and syrups. Since arriving from Mozza and Baltaire, GM David Vaughn has emphasized family-run Italian wineries and historical drinks. For dessert, finish big with a slab of banana cream gelato pie with Oreo crust, brûléed banana slices, chocolate fonduta, and a dollop of cocoa-dusted vanilla bean whipped cream.

hours

Tue–Thu 6 PM–10 PM; Fri–Sat 6 PM–11 PM; Sun 6 PM–10 PM
Closed Monday

price range

$21 (spinach gnocchi) to $135 (bistecca Fiorentina, 40 oz.)
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