Il Giglio

by Susan on September 29, 2007


Since 1989, Il Giglio has been providing stellar Northern Italian fare to in-the-know New Yorkers. Tucked away on a quiet stretch of Warren Street in TriBeCa, it is not likely a place you would stumble across, but it is worth seeking out. The green awning on the restaurant’s façade looks to be the original signage and provides apt hints of the interior’s décor. Other than a tiered display of antipasti in the entry way, the white-washed and windowless walls only house a few pieces of scattered art.

Time and again, the service here is some of the best I’ve experienced in the city. Expert wait staff buzz about the dining room, moving quickly, but never appearing harried. Every request is granted with astounding speed and whether you’d like a faster meal, or you’d like to linger over your cappuccino, your needs will be met. The menu at Il Giglio might look unimpressive, but be sure to listen closely when the server stands tableside to recite a list of specials. Most of these are not of the daily kind, but rather dishes that are always available, and ones that most returning customers, crave.

The moment you’re seated, waiters deluge your table with free antipasti treats: parmesan chunks, salami, tomato bruschetta, and zucchini slices. While all entertain your taste buds while you contemplate your order, the zucchini deserves full attention of mind and body. The slender discs are fried, cooled, and then delivered dripping in olive oil. They are addictive, and yes, you can ask for another helping.

The Caesar, Endive, and Mixed Greens are all fresh salads that promise to leave room for your entrée. Il Giglio will happily compile a colorful and varied ensemble of mixed antipasti, for as few as one diner. The special pasta starter, featuring two different pastas presented side-by-side, is the outright winner. Stuffed ravioli pillows and ribbons of papperdelle, both homemade, are the usual components.

Breadcrumbs adhere to a juicy rack of lamb with the help of Dijon mustard while a deep Barolo wine sauce pools under the bones. Lightly breaded and fried veal, topped with sage and prosciutto make for a delectable Saltimbocca Alla Fiorentina. The saltimbocca trumped the somewhat bland Scaloppine Di Vitello Pizzaiola, which lacked texture and flair. The Langostines, however, conquer all. Luscious and sweet meat can be plucked from these small lobster shells with ease. A preparation of garlic, herbs and white wine along with the diner’s choice of risotto, pasta, or rice allows the crustacean to shine.

For a large party, the assorted dessert plate is ideal. Multiple forks can simultaneously access slices of ricotta cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, tiramisu, and strawberries with Zabaglione. If you’re not in an appropriately sized group to descend on such a platter, the tiramisu and zabaglione are strong standouts.

Il Giglio
81 Warren Street
New York, NY 10007
(212) 571-5555

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