Homemade Italian comfort food a hallmark at Geneva's new Osteria Bigolaro
Since opening in early September, the high-caliber Italian eatery Osteria Bigolaro has enhanced the dining scene in Geneva with its freshly made pasta and bread.
The "Bigolaro" name is drawn from a press traditionally used to extrude very thick spaghetti, rigatoni and tagliatelle, lending an air of authenticity to the restaurant. Plus, many ingredients that Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef-owner Anthony Gargano uses, such as flour, cured meats and Parmesan cheese, are sourced directly from Italy.
Gargano, who sees a bright future for his restaurant, says that he's already hearing positive responses from customers.
One thing you'll notice upon entering the intimate restaurant is that management did a nice job renovating the premises, converting the interior space from a mundane sandwich spot to an authentic Italian pasta shop. The makeover included tables crafted from reclaimed wood, attractive sconce lighting and a wall-mounted display of thriving green plants. Because of a limited 43-seat capacity, the restaurant doesn't accept reservations.
Osteria Bigolaro's busy bar is stocked with wine mostly from Italy, with a nod to California and Washington state, too. Beer drinkers can pick from a tidy list of mostly regional breweries, but spirits are not served.
On to the fare: Pasta entrees are reasonably priced from $14 to $19, and shareable small plates average $10.
A recent dinner started with house-made burrata, a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. This tasty starter, served with fresh-baked bread, provided complex flavors from roasted fennel, Calabrian peppers and an aged balsamic reduction. Other intriguing appetizer options include prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella served with fresh bread, pork rillette (braised pork shoulder, fig and grape mostarda and homemade bread) and risotto al salto (crispy risotto patty, braised kale, roasted mushrooms, red pepper flakes, aged balsamic, poached egg and ricotta salata).
Osteria Bigolaro's open kitchen captures a taste of Italy with the Not The Average Carbonara. This popular pasta dish starts with house-cured and braised pork jowl. Bucatini pasta is smoked with hickory and apple wood chips. For the finishing touch, the entree is topped with an olive-oil poached egg yolk. It's a dish we would happily order again.
Another luscious entree showcased paccheri, a tubular-shaped pasta originating from Campania and Calabria. The dish includes succulent barese lamb sausage, roasted broccoli raab and golden raisins. You won't go wrong ordering this easy-to-like comfort food.
Homemade rigatoni also is much in demand. It's served with a pork-based San Marzano tomato red sauce, ricotta and roasted zucchini.
For diners with food sensitivities, gluten-free pasta is available for a slight upcharge.
Since the menu changes frequently, diners won't be remiss if they check out the weekly stuffed pasta, charcuterie and seasonal tartine.
Dessert choices (grandma's cookies and milk or a sticky bun on our visit) change frequently. However, given the generous servings and richness of the fare, dessert wasn't an option for us the night we visited.
Among the many pluses to our visit was the top-notch service. The energetic waitstaff was both congenial and well-versed about the food and drinks menu.
317 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 402-0597, facebook.com/osteriabigolaro/
Cuisine: Italian -- fresh pasta made daily
Setting: Attractive storefront space with table and banquet seating
Entrees: Small plates $10; pasta $14-$19
Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Also: No reservations; free parking; dine in or carry out
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.