Il Gradino manages to be that rare blend of things that most other restaurants only aspire to achieve: a place so memorable that it’s a destination, yet also a warm, friendly, fun and welcoming place for satisfied regulars. Their incredible food in ultra-generous portions is undoubtedly what draws diners from around the city and beyond, but the low-key, convivial vibe and authentic Italian cuisine is truly what makes it a neighborhood favorite.
On the wall there are pictures of Marcello Mastroianni, Dean Martin & the Rat Pack, and the famous shot of Sophia Loren ogling Jayne Mansfield’s revealing scoop-neck dress. Fresh flowers adorn various white tablecloth-shrouded tables and bouquets grace the bar, and there’s a fireplace. Il Gradino has an intimate feel that’s absolutely ideal for first dates, anniversaries, and anything else that requires romance. This is, after all, an Italian restaurant. The charming waiters speak to each other and to the patrons in effusive Italian as they expedite food, expertly recommend and re-fill wine, and deliver and whisk away plates as though by magic. Neighborhood regulars like long-married couples and parents with children gravitate to Il Gradino for dinner because they know they won’t be disappointed – the meal will be special.
Fresh, Authentic Southern Italian Cuisine
There’s something for every tastebud at Il Gradino, with a varied menu that includes veal dishes, fresh fish, steak, and whole or boneless chicken entrees, as well as a steak appetizer, vegetable options, and pasta galore. Cocktails, wine, cappuccino, soda, and whatever else whets your whistle can be savored, including Limoncello as an incredibly refreshing aperitif or digestif.
Burrata is sometimes on special, and if you’ve never tried it, you must try it here. Burrata cheese has a rich, milky, buttery flavor, with a texture that combines a delicate creamy interior with a soft, fresh exterior that pairs exceedingly well with wine and bread. Carpaccio de Fillet Mignon with Shaved Parmesan and arugula and artichokes is spectacular, as are the lightly battered Zucchini Flowers, a Clams-and-Mussels appetizer in tomato gravy, Calamari prepared according to your preference (nice!), and the traditional Caprese Salad and Prosciutto with Melon salad. Opt for the homemade soup of the day or one of the three different green salads.
All the Spectacular Pastas
Find risotto (prepared to your preference too), ravioli, fettuccine, bucattini, two linguine dishes, and a traditional spaghetti dish adorned and stuffed with everything from beef-veal alla Bolognese ragu to fresh burrata and eggplant, to fish and more.
Savory Chicken, Whole or Boned
There are five different chicken entree options, including a whole, roasted chicken. The chicken is a young chicken or a poussin, so it’s smaller than a whole adult chicken, with a somewhat different flavor and texture profile. Doesn’t that sound perfect for cooler fall and winter weather? The chicken entrees are so large that your eyes will pop upon first sight. I surveyed the generous portion of Petto di Pollo Voldostana and thought, “Ok, I have to take at least half of this home.” Yet it was so delectable that I ate it all, nearly against my will, which is a tribute to how great the food is at Il Gradino combined with how easily I am swayed.
Veal + Other Offerings
Dig into one of the three different veal dishes, which is somewhat unique to NYC restaurants, as well as a perfect steak for meat lovers, and fish: Branzino, Dover Sole, Red Snapper, and Lobster. In many cases, you can have your food cooked in the style you prefer, such as baked, roasted, or fried. The waiters and chef seem very flexible and eager to accommodate in this regard, wanting to ensure you have a marvelous meal and a fantastic time.
Il Gradino also has incredible desserts, so save room! Top your meal off with sorbeto, gelato, or any of the house specialties on any given night. Their cheesecake is a unique cross between a flan and a fresh cheesecake straight from a farm, and paired perfectly with cappuccino, espresso, or caffe.
Il Gradino is available for social or business events, and is open for lunch. It’s really convenient to public transportation, located just a few blocks away from Bloomingdale’s. Pop in when you’re hungry for something truly incredible, or just for a relaxing cocktail.
Book through @Resy
Monday – Saturday: 12PM – 11PM
Sunday 5PM – 11PM
808 Lexington Avenue
(at 63rd Street)
NEW YORK, NY 10065.