An American Italian restaurant dressed in elegant steakhouse clothes, Gabriele's in Greenwich is the bespoke incarnation of Luca's, the Italian restaurant and caterer that's inhabited Church Street for the past fifteen years.
Holding court over this recently reopened Italian chophouse is the trio of Danny Gabriele, the son of Luca and owner of Gabriele's; manager Tony Capasso, the amiable alum of Valbella; and Joseph Giordano, the chef. The two year journey from Luca's to Gabriele's included a gut renovation, a propitious relationship with Jody Pennette of cb5 Restaurant Group, and a heck of a lot of wood paneling.
The clubby bar area is filled with richly stained wood, leather chairs, and an imposing floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. An oval half-glass wall separates the bar area from the main room and allows a panoramic view of Gabriele's deep dining room and a private tasting room tucked into a corner. Upstairs, Gabriele's has renovated a large room that is often rented out for private parties and receptions.
The menu is heavy with classic cuts of aged beef fitting a steakhouse of this ilk, but don't miss the chance to dive into the Italian dishes and heavy seafood rotation, just as much Arthur Avenue than Batali-Bastianich. Although there are forays into truffle-laced pastas such as the mind-melting Housemade Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with a Poached Egg and Truffle Butter Sauce, there are a number of simple yet deeply satisfying dishes such as the Mezze Rigatoni Sunday Gravy with italian sausage and meatballs that resonate for people like me who missed out on having an Italian grandmother.
The raw bar offerings can stand on their own. I plan on returning simply to order this seasonal seafood tower, oozing with lobster, king crab, oyster and clams on the half shell. The tower is the ideal appetizer if you're dining for business on someone else's expense account.
Italian roots and seafood aside, the most important shift in the restaurant's approach is that of its bovine worship. The team at Gabriele's professed to tasting a number of beef purveyors, passing on more local options before settling on Allen Brothers in Chicago for their aged prime cuts of meat which the kitchen is seasoning and firing with a Montague broiler. The regular cuts include the classic steakhouse cuts such as a bone-in ribeye, a porterhouse and filet mignon, and a Wagyu flatiron steak. The sides are classic chophouse sides with Greenwich flair, such as an over-sized baked stuffed potato served with creme fraiche and crispy bacon – easily a meal in and of itself.
Another nod to your real or imagined Italian grandmother comes courtesy of pastry chef Leanne Mascolli, is the appearance of an Ice Box Cake on the dessert menu. A staggering multi-layered chocolate cake filled with mascarpone vanilla cream that will bend your sweet tooth into submission. The Butter Browned French Toast stuffed with Nutella and a Dreamsicle Parfait, a combination of orange vanilla bean cream, and browned house-made marshmallows are worth sticking around for whether or not you've saved room.
Gabriele's has tranformed itself into the quintessential Fairfield County steakhouse. It's a space perfect suited for the type of elbow rubbing best done in a jacket, with a stiff cocktail and a hankering for red meat. Forget the steakhouse chains and bring your appetite. And ideally, an expense account. It's a Greenwich steakhouse after all.
Gabriele's Italian Steakhouse is located at 35 Church Street, Greenwich. 203.622.4223. Reservations are recommended.
[Photography by Tom McGovern]