By Patrick Hood and Caitlyn Letterii
Join Caitlyn Letterii, former prom queen, and Patrick Hood, write-in candidate for Fordham Prep’s prom king, as they explore and critique the eats available around the Bronx and Rose Hill campus.
Arthur Avenue is a treasure trove full of all the fine dining one could desire, especially food from the birthplace of fascism: Italy. One could hypothetically eat every day for a month and never go to the same place twice, so naturally, we accidentally ate at the same Italian place twice within 48 hours. Since we became so familiar with Ol’ Gerbasi’s we figured it would be the perfect place for us to review this week, even if it was a cut above our usual price range. But don’t despair commonfolk, we’re still just like you! We just so happened to have a gift certificate the first time and two generous parents who weren’t our parents the second time.
PH: We’ve eaten so many times it’s hard to know where to begin!
CL: We’ll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. Gerbasi’s had all the makings of a fine Italian restaurant. The atmosphere inside was cozy and inviting and everything was all dolled up for V-Day! Both times we went we were seated very quickly and greeted with enthusiasm both from our waiter and the large specials whiteboard menu that they conveniently place right at the table.
PH: I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that most restaurants only pretend to have rotating specials due to lack of creativity, the comfort of routine and the chance to raise the prices tenfold on ordinary menu items. However, I am glad to say that Gerb’s did in fact have different specials each time we went.
CL: In addition to the specials, Gerbie: Fully Loaded had an extensive regular menu. So many options, my head was just spinning off its axis.
PH: We started off with some killer and exotic apps because we enjoy the finer things. The grilled octopus was like a charbroiled pool noodle in the best possible way, the caprese salad was admittedly lacking a little luster and the artichoke, while very tough to eat, was still scrumptious. I especially enjoyed eating the artichoke’s heart and gaining its powers.
CL: For my round one entrée I knew exactly what I wanted to order since I had recently seen an enticing Facebook video on fettuccine alfredo. Round two was little tougher, but after much contemplation I went with the eggplant parm.
PH: I was truly blessed to experience The Gerb twice because, upon my first visit, I was torn between the spaghetti carbonara, a creamy noodle dish (noodish) with fromage sauce and bacon, or the lasagna bene fatta, which was just regular lasagna as far as I could tell. Agonized by this real-life Sophie’s Choice, I ultimately went with my head, not my heart, and chose the carbonara. So you can only imagine my sheer joy at the chance to re-establish this missed pasta connection on my second visit when I went full Garfield and devoured that lasagna.
CL: Mondays, amiright?
PH: Preachin’ to the cat choir sister.
CL: Both of my entrées and, of course, the free bread were pretty delish. The fettuccine was almost exactly like what I had hoped for and the portion was big enough to take home and eat the next day for lunch! Halfway through eating the eggplant parmigiana I remembered that I don’t really like eggplant, so I’m going to blame myself for ordering it because I think it was probably good if you’re not the pickiest eater in the whole world. Patrick and I have both separately studied abroad in Mama Italia, and I think we would both agree Gerb City stacks up.
PH: Don’t speak for me. Each visit to Guns, Gerbs and Steel was better than the last, that’s for sure. And really we only went twice so the second time was better. While the carbonara was creamy in all the right places, it didn’t quite have enough spice to balance it out. The spaghetti went down easy, but boy was it heavy and eventually a little monotonous. The lasagna on the other hand? Fuggetaboutit! But do remember to order it, for it was quite tasty and I’d hate it if my efforts to be more Italian were misconstrued as a less than favorable review for what was a scrumptious meal.
CL: Pasta fagioli! Well we’ve droned on long enough. I think it’s time to lay down our world-famous Sweet ‘n’ Sour ratings! I am going to give Gerbil’s as Sweet rating of 4.3 of 5 stars. The food was flavorful and filling while the service and atmosphere were through the roof. My only real complaint is that my taste buds and moral compass do not allow me to enjoy more interesting foods.
PH: While I did enjoy myself each meal, I’m afraid I’ll have to be a little less forgiving, Caitlyn. The carbonara was a bit blasé, and while the lasagna and octopus were delightful, I would not say they’re quite worth the price of admission. With this in mind I deem Jon Bon Gerbi’s Ristorante an honorable Sweet rating of 3 out of 5 stars.
You should try the lasagna, the octopus (if you’re feeling adventurous) and the free bread.
You can pass on eating the artichoke unless you really know what you’re doing.
Info: Gerbasi’s Ristorante
Address: 2389 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458
Phone number: (718) 220-5735