Giano's is named for the good ol' two headed Roman god of new beginnings, endings and periods of transition – an apt name for a place we'd like to spend just about any time of day stuffing our faces. (We almost wish we had two, too.)Giano (or Janus, as he’s known to us Yanks) is the ancient Roman god of beginnings, endings and periods of transition. In statue from, you’ll see him depicted with two faces: one looks toward the past while the other eyes the future. On the calendar, his name lends itself to the month of January, a fresh start to each new year, with a nod to the previous one. This dual-natured spirit of Giano carries through, in delicious ways, to the aptly named East Village eatery. The decor even comes in two phases: a sleek bar and crisp white seating in the front room pave the way for a cozy brick-walled dining area, fireplace and courtyard in the back. Taken together, it makes for the kind of elegance you’d expect after stepping through the facade of a far pricier West Village ristorante.
The menu also interprets Giano’s two faces as traditional Italian recipes melded with modern updates to keep things fresh. Appetizers like the Crocchette di Tonno e Ricotta are a tasty example of the meeting ground between the two, an overall rustic flavor with an innovative combination of ingredients. Rich tuna is blended with creamy ricotta, then lightly fried, for a dish that is current as it is craveable. From the larger plates, we recommend the Spaghetti al Pomodoro. It’s a simple dish made complex by Giano’s rich tomato sauce and fresh pasta, made daily on site. For big appetites, we head straight for the Rigatoni con Fave e Pancetta or the Baccala’ alla Livornese con Polenta. The rigatoni has all the good stuff: pancetta, fava beans, white wine and a ricotta salata. And the baccala is equally rich. We’re talkin’ pan-seared cod with tomatoes, black olives, capers and crispy polenta. If we had two faces like Giano, maybe we could eat with both?
Crocchette di Tonno e Ricotta, $12.95
Polenta e Funghi, $10.95
Spaghetti al Pomodoro Fresco, $13.95
Rigatoni con Fave e Pancetta, $15.95
Baccala’ alla Livornese con Polenta, $22.95
Tuesday – Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.