One of New York’s best-rated Italian restaurants is Rezdôra at 27 East 20th Street. It got three stars in the New York Times and received a Michelin star. Sadly they are also snobby at the front and unaccommodating for any special requests. That is why I am surprised at the high ratings, despite the excellent pasta dishes. It opened in 2019 and is open seven days a week for dinner and for lunch Wednesday through Sunday.
This 60 seat chic, cozy spot has indoor and outdoor seating.
The space is narrow, with brick walls, blue terrazzo flooring, wooden chairs, and bad acoustics. If you want to hear each other talk opt to sit outside. However, there are no fans and it is HOT in the summer. There are reclaimed wood beams, warm lighting, and an informal, casual atmosphere.
Chef Stefano Secchi is an alum from the top-rated (was number one a few years back) Osteria Francescana in Modena Italy. He learned the art of pasta from my favourite restaurant in Modena, Hosteria Guisti. The name “Rezdora”, means, “grandmother”, in Italian, and the best chefs in Italy pick up a thing or two from their
grandmothers. Secchi focuses on the cooking of Emilia Romagna, which is the food basket of Italy, and an area that many feel has the best cooking and ingredients in all of Italy.
The pasta is where this restaurant shines brightest. However, they did make a mean gnocco fritto. Just maybe the best I’ve had outside of Emilia Romagna. His plates of charcuterie and cheeses were also on point. The stuffed pastas were my favourite, like the anolini, stuffed with cheese and meat, or the ravioli stuffed with ricotta and egg yolk and topped with shaved black truffles. The Italians know that the purity of the ingredients and the seasonality are important to make a quality dish.
The chef tries to use clever names like Massimo Bottura does at Osteria Francesca, like “cow grazing in Emilia “, which was just okay. Or the carbonara that was called “Modenese vacationing in Rome”.
The chef would not divide dishes. A few at our table wanted to do the pasta tasting menu, but unless everyone had it, he would not do it. So we asked if two of us could have three pastas, and he would not divide them for us.
The wine list had lots of Italian labels in various price ranges. We opted for Aperol Spritz’s because it was too hot to drink wine outside and they would not accommodate us in the air-conditioned restaurant, even though we came very early to dinner.
It is difficult to find authentic Italian restaurants in New York, but there is an abundance of “American Italian ” ones. This one is authentic, and the chef cooks his pasta to perfection, with inventive variations, so for that reason, I am recommending it.