I had dinner at Joanne Trattoria, an Italian restaurant in NYC that’s owned by Lady Gaga’s parents.
I tried a few popular dishes, including Joanne’s spaghetti and meatballs and chicken Parmesan.
The meal was pricey, but I had one of the best Italian dinners I’ve ever eaten.
Joanne Trattoria is located on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. The small Italian restaurant is owned by Lady Gaga’s parents, Joe and Cynthia Germanotta, and cookbook author Art Smith.
As a major Lady Gaga fan and a lover of Italian food, I decided to see what it was like to dine at Joanne Trattoria at peak hours on a Friday night. I was interested to see whether the restaurant, which is named after Lady Gaga’s aunt Joanne, would pay homage to Lady Gaga or simply offer a nice meal out.
After leaving my apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which was about an hour away from the restaurant, I arrived outside Joanne Trattoria.
The exterior of Joanne Trattoria was warm and inviting, with a large red awning bearing the restaurant’s name.
A chalkboard announced the restaurant’s happy hour, which I thought implied that I wasn’t necessarily in for a fine-dining experience, but rather a homey, family-owned-restaurant feel. I was excited to step through the doors.
When I walked in the restaurant, I noticed there was a stack of pride-themed T-shirts and Joanne Trattoria hats for sale.
Lady Gaga is an advocate of the LGBTQ+ community, so I liked that the restaurant was celebrating pride, even though I visited in late April.
There were also a few photos scattered around the restaurant’s entry, including one of “Broad City” star Ilana Glazer when she visited.
I half expected to see a shrine dedicated to Lady Gaga herself, but I didn’t quite get that.
However, there were some other photos and a signed Lady Gaga poster.
This let me know I was in the right place.
I was seated at a table in the back dining room.
While the front of the restaurant was relatively quiet when I arrived for my 7:30 p.m. reservation, the back was completely filled.
There was a wide variety of diners there, from two people that appeared to be on a date to an entire family eating at a large table in the back. One woman was eating alone, and didn’t appear even slightly out of place.
While my two friends and I were probably the youngest patrons in the restaurant — and presumably the only die-hard Lady Gaga fans — the restaurant was nevertheless buzzy and full of energy, without being too loud to have a conversation. The decor wasn’t fancy per se, but the restaurant would definitely be suitable for a special occasion.
The table was dressed with a white tablecloth and red napkins. Each table also had a fresh basil plant in the center.
I wondered if this was solely for decoration, or if you were encouraged to add fresh basil to the meal.
The menu at Joanne Trattoria was digital but easy enough to navigate.
There was a large selection of wines, including some private-label wines inspired by Gaga and her aunt Joanne.
I opted for a glass of the house red. It was rich and tasted similar to Malbec. I definitely enjoyed it and thought it started the night off on a good note. My friends each ordered a Limoncello martini, which tasted like a perfect blend of sweet and sour.
A basket full of bread was swiftly brought to our table, along with pats of butter and olive oil.
The bread was crusty on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside. I thought it could have been warmed up a little, but it was nevertheless pretty good for free bread.
The first dish we ordered was the fried calamari.
It came with a large lemon wedge and a small pot of marinara sauce. The appetizer cost $27.95, which I thought was a little expensive. However, it was more than enough to feed four people.
While the price was a little steep, I thought it was worth it. This was the best calamari I’ve ever had in my life.
It was perfectly crispy without being overly fried, and the squid itself was juicy and full of flavor. It tasted delicious with and without the marinara sauce, a feat not every plate of calamari can claim.
We all agreed the calamari was amazing, with one of my friends saying the only calamari she’s had that’s topped it was when she was actually in Italy.
My one critique was that there were no tentacles in the calamari, just large rings. My friends and I, who refer to the tentacles as “squiddies,” were slightly disappointed that there weren’t any on the plate.
We ordered three of the restaurant’s popular dishes to share, family-style.
You can also order individual entreés, of course, but we like to share food and try as many things as possible, especially with Italian food.
We ordered two of Joanne’s signature dishes, the spaghetti and meatballs and chicken Parmesan, as well as the gnocchi with white-truffle Alfredo, which was a chef specialty.
I started by trying Joanne’s spaghetti and meatballs.
The dish cost $28.95, which I thought was reasonable considering the size of the entrée. I’m used to paying prices like that in restaurants in New York City, but I imagine that might seem a little pricey for an out-of-towner.
I admittedly thought the meatballs were just OK.
They were good, but nothing to call home about, in my opinion. They were a little on the tougher side, like they had been cooked too long and weren’t super moist. I didn’t actively dislike the dish by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to the other dishes I tried, the meatballs simply weren’t a must-order item for me.
Next, I tried the chicken Parmesan.
The large chicken cutlet arrived on the plate topped with a layer of perfectly melted cheese and fresh basil. The dish cost $28.95, which I thought was fair considering it also came with a side of linguine pasta with marinara sauce. The portions overall at Joanne Trattoria were quite generous.
The chicken was moist and very flavorful.
The cheese was cooked perfectly and the marinara sauce had a lot of flavor as well. The dish was well-balanced and would have definitely filled me up completely had I only ordered it for myself. The chicken was crispy, without being overly fried or hard to bite into — overall, I was very impressed.
Lastly, we tried the white-truffle gnocchi.
This dish was the smallest, but packed the most flavor by far. It cost $23.95.
The truffle gnocchi was my favorite dish out of the ones we tried at Joanne Trattoria.
The sauce was creamy and decadent, with the truffle enveloping my taste buds. The gnocchi itself held its shape, but it was soft on the outside and practically melted in my mouth. I was truly blown away by this dish, and I thought the mushrooms added a perfect amount of earthiness to the otherwise rich meal.
To end our meal, we each ordered a Big Monster cocktail. The name is inspired by Lady Gaga’s many fans.
The cocktail, which contained coconut rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine, was super fruity and tropical-tasting. It tasted like being on vacation — and it was definitely a great starting-off point to our night on the town.
After paying the bill, we left the restaurant stuffed but very content.
The meal was very rich, and I was definitely feeling a little more full than I would have liked to be. Nevertheless, Joanne Trattoria was hands-down one of the best Italian-food experiences I’ve ever had in the city, and I would definitely go back.
Our meal, which included six drinks, an appetizer, and three main courses, came to $261.03, including a nice tip for our waiter. The meal was a little expensive for three people, but in my opinion, it was worth it. In my experience, that’s also a pretty standard cost for three people to go out to a nice dinner in New York City.
I will definitely be back to Joanne Trattoria, and I’d order almost all of the things I tried again.
However, I’m definitely excited to try more items on the menu. While we went because of the Lady Gaga connection, I’ll definitely be back for the genuinely delicious food, good drinks, and cozy, homey atmosphere and service.
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