Describing something as “grandmother’s cooking” brings to mind food that is humble and homey, perhaps not the most refined but made with a lot of heart. Rezdora, which is the word for grandmother in Modena, Italy, is the name of the new restaurant in Flatiron that is run by Stefano Secchi, who trained in the kitchen of Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana, the world’s best restaurant in 2018. The grandmother in this kitchen, however, is no creaky old lady rolling meatballs by hand. She’s quite savvy and knows her way not only around the kitchen but also around the woods. As a result, the pasta at Rezdora is one of the best in New York City.
The crown jewel of the pastas she makes, in my opinion, was inspired by her nature jaunts. In fact, the dish is called “grandma walking through forest in emilia”, a plate of plump, green cappelletti filled with roasted leek, black mushroom and spring peas. It’s rustic and hearty, as you’d expect from something made in grandma’s kitchen, but it’s done with obvious finesse, since she also has some Michelin star pedigree.
Perhaps you’re in the mood for something a little more traditional, like a pasta dish you might find in a typical red-sauce restaurant. The tagliolini al ragu resembles a bowl of bolognese or spaghetti and meatballs, but the sauce has much more depth and viscosity than most tomato-based sauces, and the meat has a slight gaminess to it that makes it interesting, not repulsive. There was a nice al dente toothiness to the strozzapreti that was quite satisfying, and in fact, texture was one of its strongest suits, as the medley of pasta, bread crumb and shrimp made for some very engaging bites.
The dishes are on the smaller side, so two people could very well share two appetizers and three pastas, which is the route we went on. The gnocco fritto appetizer, which can best be described as fried puffs of dough topped with prosciutto, mortadella and finocchiona, was on nearly every table, and for good reason. For a lighter option, try the burrata, which on the night we went came alongside some zucchini flowers.
Italian food is a pretty crowded market in New York City, and the options for good pasta are endless. It’s saying a lot that Rezdora really stands out in a city full of strong players. There’s nothing like a grandmother’s love, which may explain why the pasta at Rezdora is one of the best.
27 East 20th St (between Broadway and Park Ave)
New York, NY