Sweet ‘n’ Sour: Gerbasi’s Ristorante

By Patrick Hood and Caitlyn Letterii

Caitlyn smiles with her one of two dinners at an Arthur Avenue classic. (Courtesy of Caitlyn Letterii)

Caitlyn smiles with her one of two dinners at an Arthur Avenue classic. (Courtesy of 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.

Overall Recommendations:
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
Price: Affluent

There is one comment

  1. Ines Di Lelio


    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo” .
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong and are out of my brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio



    Con riferimento al Vostro articolo ho il piacere di raccontarVi la storia di mio nonno Alfredo Di Lelio, inventore delle note “fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”).
    Alfredo Di Lelio, nato nel settembre del 1883 a Roma in Vicolo di Santa Maria in Trastevere, cominciò a lavorare fin da ragazzo nella piccola trattoria aperta da sua madre Angelina in Piazza Rosa, un piccolo slargo (scomparso intorno al 1910) che esisteva prima della costruzione della Galleria Colonna (ora Galleria Sordi).
    Il 1908 fu un anno indimenticabile per Alfredo Di Lelio: nacque, infatti, suo figlio Armando e videro contemporaneamente la luce in tale trattoria di Piazza Rosa le sue “fettuccine”, divenute poi famose in tutto il mondo. Questa trattoria è “the birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    Alfredo Di Lelio inventò le sue “fettuccine” per dare un ricostituente naturale, a base di burro e parmigiano, a sua moglie (e mia nonna) Ines, prostrata in seguito al parto del suo primogenito (mio padre Armando). Il piatto delle “fettuccine” fu un successo familiare prima ancora di diventare il piatto che rese noto e popolare Alfredo Di Lelio, personaggio con “i baffi all’Umberto” ed i calli alle mani a forza di mischiare le sue “fettuccine” davanti ai clienti sempre più numerosi.
    Nel 1914, a seguito della chiusura di detta trattoria per la scomparsa di Piazza Rosa dovuta alla costruzione della Galleria Colonna, Alfredo Di Lelio decise di trasferirsi in un locale in una via del centro di Roma, ove aprì il suo primo ristorante che gestì fino al 1943, per poi cedere l’attività a terzi estranei alla sua famiglia.
    Ma l’assenza dalla scena gastronomica di Alfredo Di Lelio fu del tutto transitoria. Infatti nel 1950 riprese il controllo della sua tradizione familiare ed aprì, insieme al figlio Armando, il ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” (noto all’estero anche come “Alfredo di Roma”) in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 (cfr. il sito web di Il Vero Alfredo).
    Con l’avvio del nuovo ristorante Alfredo Di Lelio ottenne un forte successo di pubblico e di clienti negli anni della “dolce vita”. Successo, che, tuttora, richiama nel ristorante un flusso continuo di turisti da ogni parte del mondo per assaggiare le famose “fettuccine all’Alfredo” al doppio burro da me servite, con l’impegno di continuare nel tempo la tradizione familiare dei miei cari maestri, nonno Alfredo, mio padre Armando e mio fratello Alfredo. In particolare le fettuccine sono servite ai clienti con 2 “posate d’oro”: una forchetta ed un cucchiaio d’oro regalati nel 1927 ad Alfredo dai due noti attori americani M. Pickford e D. Fairbanks (in segno di gratitudine per l’ospitalità).
    Desidero precisare che altri ristoranti “Alfredo” a Roma non appartengono e sono fuori dal mio brand di famiglia.
    Vi informo che il Ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” è presente nell’Albo dei “Negozi Storici di Eccellenza – sezione Attività Storiche di Eccellenza” del Comune di Roma Capitale.
    Grata per la Vostra attenzione ed ospitalità nel Vostro interessante blog, cordiali saluti
    Ines Di Lelio


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