Romagna Ready 2 Go – 182 Bleeker Street New York, NY 10012
When you hear that a secret Florentine garden recently opened as part of an authentic Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, your first question should probably be how soon can I get there…
After visiting the Italian region of Tuscany just a few weeks prior – yes, as soon as we get through the Budapest series Italy posts will be on their way! – I never thought I could taste Bolognese sauce and homemade pasta the same way again. The flavors of the food in the birthplace of tortellini and Bolognese sauce were so fresh and beautifully seasoned that I had since been wary of tasting Americanized Italian food.
Fortunately, Romagna Ready 2 Go is located in the Village and owned and run by Italian chef Lorenzo Lorenzi – and he imports all of his meat and ingredients from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy where he was born, just a short train ride away from Bologna and Florence.
I arrived at the restaurant with my wonderful plus one close to 6:30, to find it virtually empty of patrons. The restaurant/bar across the street had a line out the door made up of NYU students, who were somehow oblivious to the delicious menu awaiting them on the other side of the street. We were seated in the brand-new outdoor garden that Lorenzi put together himself. The idea of it is lovely, and it certainly does add a rustic feel to the atmosphere with tables made from old doors and the walls and trellis full of potted plants and flowers.
What I found unfortunate was the abundance of fake plants and flowers and even an unnecessary wall half-covered in plastic turf. This is something that would rarely be found in authentic restaurants in Italy, and when it is present, only in those which are geared towards tourists. The décor shows that Romagna Ready 2 Go is still trying to figure out its customer base – with a stage for live music, BOGO wine nights and beer pong tournaments on the weekends despite a classy imported menu with ingredients shipped from the homeland – yet once it chooses who to cater to, it will be the go-to spot with a line out the door, without a doubt.
That being said, the menu is simply divine and the prices are more than reasonable, especially considering the restaurant’s location and the fact that most ingredients are imported from Italy. I spoke with Lorenzi who said he was inspired by his upbringing in the Emilio-Romagna region of Italy. His extensive Piadina menu is a direct result of this, featuring 22 different sandwiches. I tried the Genoa, the flatbread with Pesto, Bufala Mozzarella and Prosciutto Crudo and the flavors immediately took me back to Tuscany. There is no doubt that the ingredients are fresh, the Prosciutto Crudo imported and the Bufala Mozzarella homemade in Lorenzi’s kitchen. Romagna Ready 2 Go puts as much meticulous effort and importance in the way their food is created as the best restaurants in Italy do.
Next, we were served a cheese plate and a meat plate with glasses of Lambrusco wine, also typical of the region and incredibly balanced flavor. The cheese plate consisted of Burrata, Truffle Mozzarella and Chamomile-Infused Pecorino. Each cheese was delicious, fresh and served a top arugula and olives. My particular favorite was the Chamomile-Infused Pecorino, which had a hinted aftertaste of chamomile and was stand-out special. The meat plate was Prosciutto, Bresola and Porchetta. I had tried my first Porchetta a few weeks prior in Tivoli, Italy and had realized what I had been missing out on. The Porchetta on the meat plate was just as delicious, with a poignant and rich flavor of juicy pork.
It is questionable how there was still room in our stomachs, but it was not long before the main courses came out. We tried the Seafood Gnocchi and Lasagna della Nonna. The gnocchi was handmade in the Romagna Ready 2 Go kitchen and you could taste the difference. It blended nicely with the creamy seafood sauce, featuring shrimps and scallops sent over from the Italian Emilio-Romagna coast. It was a heavy dish but the flavor was wonderful.
The Lasagna della Nonna was one of the best lasagnas I have ever had. It was made with homemade and very finely sliced layers of square sheet pasta and the sauce included beef, pork and veal – most sauces only include the first two. The added veal and delicate pasta created the perfect tilted tower of lasagna topped with fresh grated cheese. The flavors melted together in my mouth, the way only authentic Italian cooking can encourage, and I began to ponder how the Village needs to discover this gem of a dish.
The dessert menu was extensive as well. After some thought, I decided on the “Chocolate Salami” something I had never heard of, but Lorenzi had described the process of how it was made and it sounded right up my alley. It was made with a medley of chocolates and cookies, frozen and then sliced. It came served with strawberries and was absolutely worth it. The dessert really did look like salami, and the mixed colors could be allotted to the cookies in the ingredients. Washing it down with a cappuccino was the perfect way to end the meal.
If you are in the NYC area, Romagna Ready 2 Go is certainly a must-try.
Stay Classy! xx