PAGANI: underwhelming new Italian spot

PAGANI nyc

Dear Food Diary:
After a whole summer without Italian food, I was excited to read about Pagani – not that we need another Italian spot in this city – but hey, who am I to refuse fresh pasta and good marinara.

The girls and I pampered ourselves at the spa and stopped by Pagani for an early dinner. I wish I could say our tummies were pampered as well, but for the most part, it was a bland, forgettable meal.

Sorry to report another case of taste buds amnesia.

PAGANI nyc 2
I swear this place looked familiar, whatever it once was, it was similarly underwhelming.

PAGANI nyc - drunk chicken liver crostini
Drunk Chicken Liver Crostini
The flavors were ok though the drunk part was lost. We all agreed we had better chicken liver. Co. comes to mind right now, but I’m pretty sure there were others.

 

PAGANI nyc - baked veal meatballs
Baked Veal Meatballs – ricotta, tomato sauce, parmigiano, garlic toast
First of all, the toast had no garlic, plus as you can see, it was very unevenly toasted. And though the tomato sauce had a nice balanced sweetness to it, the meatballs were dry, so much so, that I was thinking about The Meatball Shop the whole time. Taste cheating during dinner is never a good sign.

 

PAGANI nyc - polenta fries
Polenta Fries
These were pretty tasty. Crispy outside and a warm soft center of a thicker and firmer pudding like texture. One of our favorites of the night. A nice dip in the marinara.

 

PAGANI nyc - braised rabbit rigatoni
Rigatoni – braised rabbit, carrots, peas, black olives, sweet onions
The shredded rabbit was very tender, one could easily mistaken it to the texture of chicken. The sauce was on the sweater side, but it wasn’t bad. Al dente pasta. Overall it was ok, but just not outstanding or memorable enough for me to want them again.

 

PAGANI nyc - gemelli
Gemelli – wild mushrooms, pine nuts, arugula, garlic, white wine
Again, not horrible, but a bit bland. Something we could easily whip up at home, while being charged $18 here. Maybe a little more salt would of helped. I don’t mean salty enough to mask all the ingredients, but a nice sprinkle to bring out the flavors. Salt is our friend when used properly.

 

PAGANI nyc - roasted cauliflower
Roasted Cauliflower
Biggest disappointment of our meal, hands down the worst version I’ve ever had. First of all, the amount of capers and olives made it incredibly salty and sour. Instead of roasted, it seemed like it was steamed or something. Wet and sad looking. Not many pieces had that nice chard that well… makes roasted cauliflower “roasted”! And the one’s that did, still carried a lot of unwanted moisture all around. I make them at home all the time and it’s not that hard.

 

I really wanted to like it, but it just didn’t stand out. In a city full of outstanding Italian, you really need to wow diners to survive, the premises of homemade, fresh pasta isn’t enough to compete with others who do the same but really really well.

I know they are new and might need some more time to work it out, I hope they do. But overall, my dinner was unmemorable.
P.S. Chubby’s Rating:chubby rating 2
www.paganinyc.com
299 Bleeker St.
212.488.5800

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