Memorial Day was one for seeking sidewalk seating. Comfortably warm, cloudless, and void of the summer stink, when we set off for brunch we were determined to capitalize on this rare but perfect day.
We were joined by my boyfriend’s parents when we headed for Gemma at the Bowery Hotel, which has an abundance of outdoor seats. We were immediately seated in a prime location, perfect for people watching, as Gemma is famous for its celebrity sightings.
Lattes were quickly ordered, followed by a complimentary bread basket that turned out to be a fabulous surprise: fresh, warm banana bread served with accompanying clarified butter. The thickness of this caramelized butter paired with warm banana bread was dangerously good and I had not one but two (gasp). It was, after all, a holiday.
After a good look at the menu, I realized this brunch wasn’t for the carb fearing, with an assortment of pizzas and pastas for those who like a lunch-brunch, and many egg-centric traditionals for conventional brunchers like me.
I ordered the soft boiled eggs and whole wheat soldiers, which was met with nostalgia by Paul, who grew up eating the “toast sticks” as a child. The dish was definitely a process, as it required a careful slicing of the hard boiled egg to avoid the soft yolk from getting everywhere. Once the eggs were cut, the soldier dipping pretty much eradicated any carefulness with the yolk; there was no way to avoid being messy. I did like that this required me to eat slower than usual and I appreciated that it was different. The eggs were regular but well-cooked, and my favorite part was soaking the bread in the yoke sauce.
Paul and his mum ordered the baked eggs with avocado and prosciutto, served with a thick tomato sauce, fontina cheese, and Tuscan toast. Talk about FOMO..I had order remorse as soon as their brightly colored dish came out, exuding flavor before we even took a bite. Baked eggs are a hit or miss for me; sometimes they’re overly dry. These, however, were full of flavor and delicious paired with the crusty bread.
Paul’s dad ordered the eggs a la Gemma, which was their rendition of eggs Benedict. Poached eggs were served on brioche with Prosciutto Cotto, hollandaise, and asparagus. He liked the addition of a vegetable component and the saltiness of the prosciutto paired with the creamy sauce, and we felt that it was good, but not mind blowing.
We could have sat on that sidewalk basking in the sun for hours, but we had a day of drinking at the Frying Pan ahead and had to make moves to beer carbs soon after we’d piled on the brunch carbs. We thoroughly enjoyed the food and atmosphere (it’s great inside for colder months, too!), and I’d recommend this spot to anyone looking for a nicer family brunch al fresco.
The Bitches say B+. The sidewalk seating, baked eggs, and banana bread made this experience noteworthy, with reliable rustic Italian brunch options and a prime people-watching location.
The Bowery Hotel
Gemma serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.