Food, Italian Style…

Vincenzo Pizzilli & David
Vincenzo Pizzilli & David

David had a late haircut with the talented Alejandra at Gleam Salon on the upper west side…great services at Gleam, by the way.

We inquired as to a good place to have dinner.

The glam squad foodies at Gleam all chimed in…it was unanimous, Gastronomica Culinaria on 106th Street between Columbus and Manhattan Avenues.

Gastronomica Culinaria
Gastronomica Culinaria

We strolled the three blocks down and our destination was a tiny, glass fronted, rustic looking restaurant.

Gastronomica Culinaria
Gastronomica Culinaria

It was partially full and the hostess inquired as to whether we had a reservation.

No problem. We were delighted to sit at the communal table in the rear of the restaurant.

We perused the menu and were contemplating our selections when a charming, effusive man bopped over.

We were impressed with him and his intoxicating Italian manner. Turns out he is chef and owner, Vincenzo Pezzilli.

Pezzilli is a native of Rome who shared the story of his first attempt at cooking at age 5, which ended with the arrival of the fire department.

In 1997, he landed in New York after interning with renown chef, Paul Bocuse, and began working his way through the city’s classical Italian restaurants, including Coco Pazzo.

A decade ago, he briefly ran his own restaurant, Culinaria, in Times Square.

Three years ago, he opened Gastronomica Culinaria.

What is an Italian meal without wine? Pezzilli recommended his favorite, Aglianic del Vulture ($52). It was a delightful…full bodied with a pleasing round finish.


The server brought over homemade breads and a parsley dip…a lovely accompaniment to the wine.


While we waited for dinner to arrive we grabbed a breadstick from the glass container on the table….best breadsticks I have ever eaten. They are truly addictive.

We asked for more and found out that this can be a difficult request to fill, but we were obliged.

It turns out that Pezzilli mastered the at of breadstick making when he was commissioned to be a chef for the Italian Olympians in Beijing, China.

The Chinese did not fulfill the grocery list and he formulated his own recipe through much trial and error. The results are unbelievably delicious.

Cavolo Nero
Cavolo Nero

We started with Cavolo Nero, a salad comprised of Tuscan kale, shaved Fiore Sardo cheese and a dressing made with garlic, anchovies and a lemon emulsion ($10). The salad was hardy and delicious.

Cacio & Pepe
Cacio & Pepe

Next we ordered the Cacio & Pepe which rivaled Lupa’s signature dish. Lupa is Mario Batali’s long established trattoria in the village.

The dish was creamy, peppery and the homemade tonnerelli with imported pecorino cheese and black cracked pepper was perfectly prepared ($13).

The menu is varied, including pizza, chicken, fish, steak and paninis.

Pezzilli kept checking back. I was surprised he was so spry after experiencing a very bad fall in the restaurant earlier that week.

He required stitches and sustained a concussion yet was back running the ship a few days later.

He should really abide by the NFL concussion protocol.


He generously sent over a fabulous dessert of zeppole, the Italian donuts which were topped with a juicy blueberry compote and a sprig of fresh mint.

Dunkin’ Donuts eat your heart out!

Gastronomica Culinaria is the ideal neighborhood restaurant…wish there was one in our ‘hood.

If you find yourself uptown, get a great haircut or highlights at Gleam Salon and then dine at the charming  Gastronomica Culinaria.

Gastronomica Culinaria 53 West 106th Street New York City. Open for dinner Monday-Thursday 5-10pm, Friday-Sunday 5-11pm. Reservations on OpenTable.

Gleam Salon 986 Columbus Avenue New York City.

Gleam Salon
Gleam Salon

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