Ramerino Italian Prime, located steps from the New York Public Library and Bryant Park, is owned by Sammy V. Gashi, an industry veteran with a career spanning 25 years. Gashi also owns and operates San Marino SoHo and Antica Ristorante on Stone Street. Ramerino Italian Prime is his take on rural Tuscan cuisine and is named after a staple of the region’s cuisine, rosemary.
The menu celebrates the culinary offerings of the Tuscany region prepared simply, using olive oil rather than butter, clean natural ingredients, premium meats and fish, vegetables and homemade pasta. To bring the concept to life, Gashi enlisted Tuscan-born executive chef Vilfredo Hodai, who acquired his culinary knowledge working in restaurants in Florence, Italy, including La Giostra, before arriving in New York.
The restaurant was designed in collaboration with the owner and Paul Vega, founder of VLDG Design, to highlight the large dining room with smart and elegant accents of millennial blue and Venetian plaster, wine displays and large columns mosaic. The tranquil outdoor patio is lined with greenery to provide an oasis in midtown Manhattan.
Ramerino has a real traditional look; you’ll know you’re in a fancy dining establishment the second you walk in. Honestly, I really loved the ambiance and the servers were really nice and escorted me and my guest to our seats. After a few minutes they came and took our drink orders; I had an Old Fashioned (no surprise there) and my guest had a Lemon Drop. Both drinks were full of flavor and fresh as a drink should be.
For our first course (which we ordered while we were deciding what else we were going to eat) we had the Ramerino salad (mixture of greens, walnuts, pear and goat cheese with a lemon vinaigrette). This salad was extremely enjoyable and bursting with flavor. The ingredients were almost like a nice farewell to summer while simultaneously saying hello to fall. All the flavors blended perfectly and the salad was eaten pretty quickly; we were definitely ready for more.
Then there was the calamari dish (grilled calamari, arugula pesto and tomatoes). I’m so used to having fried calamari that I had no idea how good they would taste grilled. If you’ve never had grilled calamari before (I know there may be a surprising number of us) you have to try it and better yet, you have to come to Ramerino and make sure it’s prepared with quality. The grill gave it an almost slightly charred octopus taste and the arugula pesto and tomatoes really helped balance out the flavor.
For our main course we had a lovely bolognese (fettuccine pasta, traditional veal stew, Parmigiano-Reggiano aged 24 months) Risotto (carnaroli rice, asparagus, zucchini, zafferano) and an amazing Fileto Al Barolo (half-rare filet mignon with a reduction of red wine). I’m just going to go ahead and let you know, this meal is hands down in the top 5 I’ve had all summer. The bolognese was extremely flavorful and the veal chunks were large enough for you to taste good but not so large that they overpowered the dish. The risotto was also interesting. I think the zafferano (saffron) gave it a flavor I wasn’t used to, but when it was combined with that sweet sweet drizzle, something amazing happened. Speaking of tenderloin, ours was cooked to perfection and tasted slightly sweet/earthy; almost like jasmine or some other fresh herb has been added to it. The red wine reduction gave it a richness that I had never experienced with a filet mignon before.
For dessert, we enjoyed the Il Nostro Tiramisu (lady fingers soaked in espresso, cocoa, mascarpone). I think the best thing I can compare it to is a vanilla and cocoa macaron in tiramisu form; simply delicious. Ramerino was also kind enough to give us a free limoncello, which was the icing on the cake.
My stay at Ramerino was definitely enjoyable. Sammy and all the staff were a joy and most importantly the food was absolutely delicious. I recommend Ramerino to anyone craving high end Italian food. You won’t be disappointed and if you’re anything like me, you’ll plan your next visit before your meal is finished. ramerinoprime.com