Ghibellina: Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo

Ghibellina Gnocchi with Kale Pesto

It’s no secret that Americans have been sustaining a healthy obsession with kale since the super food became a super trend in 2012. Chances are, you’ve had a friend, neighbor or yoga instructor climb onto a leafy-green soapbox to tell you why you should be eating kale … every day.

You’ve probably heard that it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, can help reduce your risk of certain cancers, and packs in fiber without the calories. Kale me crazy, but what we’d like to throw in there is that it’s cheap, affordable and most importantly, versatile. Virgin kale consumers don’t have to dive into the deep-end by sticking a straw into a raw green smoothie. There are plenty of more palatable ways to sneak kale into your diet.

Enter Ghibellina, the 14th Street newcomer and the Best Thing on the Menu: Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo. Gnocchi as light and fluffy as a Four Seasons down pillow come adorned with kale pesto, walnuts and taleggio. While it’s fun to cut pizza with scissors (one of the better gimmicks we’ve seen in a while),  we were more excited about the kale pesto as a fun take on an Italian classic. The BTM comes in two sizes, so you can enjoy it as an appetizer and still get the full experience of using sheers to slice your main-course pizza pie. We found a gnocchi with kale pesto recipe if you’d like to give it a whirl at home.

Ghibellina was in the same 14th Street draft class as Etto and Le Diplomate, and is faring extremely well. It fits that the Italian gastro pub serving up Tuscan cuisine has found a niche for itself doing happy hour, since the majority of the restaurant is bar seating, with only a few tables tucked away. Their fantastic happy hour is offered Tuesday-Sunday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and specials include 1/2 price pizzas, Imperial Pints (20oz not 16oz) at $3.50-$4.00, $5 wines and $6 specialty cocktails.

We look forward to trying Ghibellina for brunch because we love the quirky nature of an Italian joint serving Challah French Toast.

Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

If you liked this, you might also like: Firefly and Urbana.

Le Pain Quotidien: Tuscan White Bean & Prosciutto Salad

Tuscan White Bean Salad

Best Thing on the Menu (BTM) makes a departure from the norm in this entry – by venturing into the realm of chain restaurants.  This is usually a trip not worth taking. However, a visit to a Le Pain Quotidien is a departure in and of itself. The rustic wood communal tables, shared jams and jellies, glasses of white wine in the afternoon and those delicious open-faced Belgian tartines can transport you to Europe for an hour or two. Even if you can’t say it (here’s help:  luh paN koh-ti-dyaN), a snack at this bakery and communal table establishment is the perfect post-yoga, mid-errand, slow-Sunday-morning retreat.

The BTM at Le Pain is a bit of an underdog: Tuscan White Bean & Prosciutto Salad with arugula, shaved Parmesan and basil croutons. The salty prosciutto combined with the funky, fresh parmesan and the over-the-top pungent basil make this dish a flavor explosion that evokes a summer picnic in Tuscany. The salad of course comes with Le Pain’s famous and hearty bread, so you’re not missing out on the bakery experience if you go the salad route. Don’t forget you can always purchase a whole loaf to take home.

Tuscan White Bean & Prosciutto Salad not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.