The gnocchi. Photo from NYC Dinsert Guide.
I was set up for a date with my friend’s friend’s friend. I had no idea who this girl was or what she was about so after we decided to get dinner instead of going straight to a bar I figured a solid Italian place would be good for everyone.
That’s why I went to an old standby: Bianca.
Bianca is a small restaurant near Bowery that has surprisingly good food for a surprisingly good price. The small space is a premier date spot despite not taking card—remember to hit the ATM before you go—and being cramped and loud. But it’s only cramped and loud because it’s so popular.
The wait times at Bianca are never terrible even though they don’t take reservations; I’ve always gotten a table within about 15 minutes and this time was no exception. (I’ve always gone with just myself and a date so your mileage may vary if you go with a larger group.) The rustic atmosphere clamored as waitstaff slyly snake their way through the tables.
Bread was fresh and plentiful, served with olive oil and pepper. It came out warm and was replaced quickly, tiding us over until the meals came out. The lasagna is fantastic but my go-to meal has always been the gnocchi and this was no exception. My date got the tagliatelle.
The food came quickly. My gnocchi was as good as it ever was and my date enjoyed her tagliatelle but I noticed that our food was sort of lukewarm instead of piping hot as it usually is. I don’t know why that happened; maybe they had an off night.
We didn’t finish our meals, which is par for the course when I’m at Bianca. It’s not that the portions are particularly large—they’re not—but when you’re having a great conversation you wind up getting full before you finish. Still, I made sure to use some bread to sop up some of my gorgonzola sauce. Scrumptious.
Dessert wasn’t part of that night’s plan but I’ve had most of their desserts and I can attest that the tiramisu is very, very good. The tortino is also excellent.
All told, two entrees and a nice tip cost under $30. Add in a dessert to split and a glass of wine each and you’re still only hovering around $50.
Bianca Restaurant (5 Bleecker St. b/t Bowery & Elizabeth Sts.) opens for dinner at 5 PM every day and closes at 11 PM most days (12 AM Friday and Saturday, 10:30 PM Sunday). Remember, they don’t take reservations and it’s cash-only, so show up early and have plenty of cash. Enjoy date night!