By Kristine Hornung-Pottle:
Open for a little over four months, Gigi’s Cocina Povera brings a little bit of Sicily to the block. The comfy 60-seat restaurant is located at 981 Kenmore Ave. in the former O’Connell’s American Bistro. The chef and owner Mary Ann Giordano has been an accomplished chef in the Buffalo area for many years and has published a cookbook prior to opening Gigi’s. The Saint Joseph’s Day Table Cookbook is a compilation of traditional family recipes. The menu at Gigi’s seems to share some of the same beloved family fare.
The service staff is welcoming, informative and attentive. The wine list complements the menu and offers a range of affordable pairings. Of the items sampled, the favorites included the fried cardoons, the arancini and the pasta carbonara. The fried cardoons were crispy & seasoned perfectly. The arancini had terrific saffron flavor in the risotto and a delicious burst of melted cheese in the center. The pasta carbonara was beautifully light and buttery tasting with the perfect amount of pancetta (as it should taste for something that is usually not so light!) The disappointing item was the chicken livers. They were slightly overcooked and lacked the flavors of Marsala, sage & onion that were so alluring on the menu.
Another really great plus for Gigi’s is that they are very kid friendly. They accommodated reasonable menu requests to please a child. They have a wonderful policy of offering a free bowl of gelato to children who finish their plates. Smart idea and so helpful for parents. If they offered that on the adult menu, everyone would be in trouble. The menu is large and it’s hard to choose just one item to try, while the portions are generous and difficult to finish in one sitting. If you had to finish your plate in order to get gelato, most would miss out on the amazing treat. Just wrap your leftovers and order the frozen yumminess!
Overall the sampling was delicious, the service was terrific and our night at Gigi’s Cocina Povera was memorable. The leftovers for my husband were pretty great too. We will be going back and bringing friends and family.