Here on the East Coast, this winter really never seems to end (I’m looking at you March blizzard), which is a bit of a catch-22 for weekend brunching. On one hand, stepping one foot out of the door into a suspicious puddle of gray slush is the absolute last thing you want to do, but again holing up in a cozy restaurant over rounds of mimosas with your girlfriends is the perfect way to let the storm pass.
On this particular Saturday, I opted for the latter and met up with my girlfriend Andrea for the official brunch launch at Galli Restaurant’s new Lower East Side location.
Galli’s original location is on Mercer in SoHo, but we were informed by our friendly server that the Lower East location opened up mere months ago. The new location is in the heart of LES at the corner of Rivington and Ludlow, by one of my favorite pieces of street art — the Karl Lagerfeld skeleton painting by Bradley Theodore.
The theme of the inaugural brunch celebration was Throwback Brunch, represented by DJ Hesta Prynn’s special throwback soundtrack with hits from the 80s and 90s as well as Galli’s menu, which uses recipes passed down from Sicily through generations of the Gallo family. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know I’m a sucker for brunching to old-school hip hop (see: Pig & Khao and Egg Shop) so Galli had bonus points in my book once I heard the first Wu-Tang track.
The ambiance at Galli was consistent with its cool Lower East Side location. The restaurant is bright and airy with plenty of windows, contrasted by dark wooden tables and industrial light fixtures. A highlight was the funky, retro palm front wallpaper and gold accents near the bar, reminiscent of 1950’s Palm Beach. All of the servers were laid back and looked the part with dreadlocks, mohawks, and floppy beanies. We felt welcome and right at home.
But first, coffee. Galli serves comfort Italian food and our server reassured us that they have killer Italian espresso. It lived up to our expectations; my latte was rich and bold, while Andrea enjoyed her coffee with a splash of milk. Once we were properly caffeinated, we were ready to start on some adult beverages.
For the majority of our meal we stuck to mimosas, which were served with fresh squeezed juice and in enormous wine glasses. The large serving size was much appreciated because there is nothing more annoying than flagging down your server to refill watered down mimosas in petite champagne glasses throughout your brunch.
Galli is also known for their cocktail offerings so we paused our mimosas to split a specialty drink. We selected the Lili’s Curve, a tequila drink served with lime, pepper, simple syrup, and strawberry puree. The fresh strawberries really made the cocktail and we found it refreshing and quite easy to drink. Maybe a little too easy.
By this time, we were starving so immediately ordered a few items to share. Galli’s brunch menu features seven classics like French toast, smoked salmon, and granola, but also Italian-inspired egg dishes such as a frittata, Italian toast, and breakfast bucatini.
We were immediately drawn to the Hangover Platter, which sounded like it would hit the spot as we were still shaking the rust off from the late night out prior. As one could imagine, the Hangover Platter hosted a smattering of fried food: riceballs, mozzarella chips, and chicken parm sliders. You can’t go wrong with fried food. We devoured everything on the plate, but standouts included the ooey gooey mozzarella cheese straight from the oven and the flavorful marinara sauce atop the mini chicken parms.
After a few mimosas, we agreed that 2015 is our year of YOLO so we obviously must order the deliciously decadent breakfast bucatini, basically a great excuse to eat ultra creamy pasta before 1 p.m. This dish lived up to its tempting description; thick bucatini pasta was smothered in romano infused cream cheese, soft bacon, and a fried egg. The entree was so rich that we could only muster a few sinful bites, but they were worth every calorie, although the pasta was cooked a little more al dente than I prefer. This was a perfect dish to share with a friend.
As if this wasn’t enough food, we were also intrigued by the Italian toast, which reminded me of breakfast bruschetta. The dish featured prosciutto di parma, fried eggs, and that zesty marinara sauce on top of grilled ciabatta. These classic Italian ingredients balanced each other well with plenty of flavor between the sauce, runny eggs, and crispy meat. One qualm that we had was that it was very messy to eat.
We easily spent two hours at Galli catching up over cocktails and bopping around to the throwback soundtrack. We had a blast and I would definitely return for that fried cheese and breakfast bucatini, if nothing else.
The Bitches say: B+. Fun vibe and comforting Italian classics with a twist. Galli is a welcome additional to the Lower East Side neighborhood.
98 Rivington St.
New York, NY
(Lower East Side)
Galli serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11 a.m.