Being that my last name ends in a vowel it’s pretty much a given Italian cuisine is something I enjoy immensely. I find that when you eat food representative of your background or even if it’s the primary cuisine you eat at home, you are also critical of said cuisine. I’m always looking for an Italian restaurant that isn’t substandard and successfully fits the criteria I look for. In other words, when I eat Italian food out I want it be just as good as what I happily devour at home. Luckily I found such a place.
Grotta Azzurra resides in Little Italy, a neighborhood with a rich history that attracts both tourists and native New Yorkers because of the many great restaurants crowded on Mulberry Street. Grotta Azzurra has a rich history worth mentioning too. Grotta Azurra opened its doors in 1908 and was a known favorite of the late great Frank Sinatra. His music can be heard as well as other famous crooners like Dean Martin throughout the establishment. The restaurant was recently renovated and is simply beautiful. The interior is elegant due to circle pictures of famous Renaissance sculptures decorating the walls. This is all complemented by the colorful marble accented throughout, as well as the checkered floors and intricate tile designs parading around the room. The atmosphere removes you from the stress of the city and allows you to metaphorically wade in the waters of Capri— even if only for a moment.
Grotta Azzurra has more than just a relaxing ambiance, but the establishment is also student savings friendly. The restaurant offers a fabulous and well-worth it lunch special from 11am-4pm during the weekdays, were for only $9.95 you can enjoy a delightful pasta dish and entrée. During my visit to Grotta Azzurra I enjoyed for my pasta dish rigatoni alla vodka and the sauce was just the perfect blend of tomato, vodka, and cream. I knew even before eating it that it’d be mouth watering good because of the just right pink coloring of the sauce. My sister opted for the penne sorrentina dish, which consisted of a tomato sauce along with mozzarella, basil, and eggplant. She mused that the dish was delicious and even more satisfying because of the tasty eggplant. When finished with our pasta dishes our entrees were served. My sister and I are both fans of chicken parmigiana, so the ultimate test for sure would be to eat just that for the entrée. We both agreed that the chicken was cooked perfectly: it cut easily and was also very light. In addition, potatoes and steamed broccoli were served with the entrée and both were equally satisfying. The added perk to this great meal clearly was the impressive price.
After this enjoyable meal experince at Grotta Azzurra, I will be sure to visit again to try other pasta and entrée combinations offered as part of the lunch special. Not only that but I will definitely join a few girlfriends for Grotta Azzurra’s ladies night on Thursdays from 5pm-9pm. On ladies night women get 50% discount on drinks and also free appetizers. So if you’re a fan of Italian pleasing Italian cuisine, student discounts, and an atmosphere representative of the motherland
itself make sure to check out the lovely Grotta Azzurra.
Anjelica LaFurno (Baruch College)
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Image credit: bluegrotta.com
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