Like many, I've been anticipating the opening of Giada at the Cromwell. Friday night, I was lucky enough to be an invited guest for the soft opening. And, wow! What a fantastic meal. I enjoyed the experience more than I even imagined. From start to finish the attention to detail was incredible. The staff was well trained, the kitchen executed beautifully and Giada was in the house to see everything was up to par.
Cocktails are well thought out, I tried the Destroyer first, but it was the Hannibal that was a crowd favorite. We sipped on those while we gazed over the huge selection of antipasto items. It's a bit overwhelming to choose, because they all sound delicious, but eventually we decided the table would share the dates ($14), burrata ($12), orzo meatballs ($13), rollatini ($12) lobster arancini ($18), salami and cheese platter. Bite after bite was utterly delicious. However, the dates stood out as a favorite, like most these were sweet and salty, but what set them apart was the spice from the Italian sausage. They had some serious kick, which I loved. The aged parmesan from the platter was dreamy, as well.
Next, we shared a variety of pastas: Giada's signature spaghetti ($28), tortellini ($26), ravioli ($34), and farrotto ($26). The spaghetti's simplicity really shines with a touch of lemon, basil and three jumbo shrimp. The ravioli was delicate and filled with wonderful flavors from the lobster, asparagus, and tarragon. The farrotto had a wonderfully chewy texture and earthy flavor from the morel mushrooms and distinct richness from the pecorino, we really enjoyed it. The manager brought over an order of risotto ($30) for comparison. It too was delicious, it oozed with bold seafood flavors from the crab and scallops. You cannot go wrong.
We had already enjoyed a feast, but the main course was still to come. We had the veal chop saltimbocca ($43), rack of lamb ($45), and Tuscan ribeye ($68). The veal chop and the ribeye were straight from the Flintstones. These were extremely large portions even for the heartiest of appetites. Every bit of it was stellar. The lemon potatoes were the perfect accompaniment. They are smashed and fried and topped with cheese. Meat and potatoes never tasted so good.
Dessert selections were chosen for us, but when the restaurant officially opens there will be a dessert cart with a dozen or so creations to choose from. We had a trio of gelatos, the espresso and chocolate really stood out. The banana was the least favorite. Then, there were assorted cookies, tart and other pastries. To cap it off they served a scrumptious nutella espresso that was simply sinful.
The dining room is gorgeous. You can spot Giada's special touches all over. The retractable windows are impressive though it got a bit warm when they were open. The photobooth is a clever way to set the mood for the playful and fun evening that lies ahead.