One of my favorite restaurants in New York City is a tiny Italian hole-in-the-wall called Bello Giardino. I started going there because it is a regular haunt of a dear friend of mine. She’s known the bartender/hostess for years and so it is a good place to set up camp, drink red wine, and not worry about getting kicked out of a table because you’re eating too slow.
My first time at Bello Giardino I ordered a 1/2 portion (they do 1/2 portions of pasta, also a reason I love it) of spinach and cheese ravioli with a pink sauce that was also advertised to have artichokes in it. I was wary at first as I couldn’t imagine cream, tomatoes, and canned artichokes going to well together. Within moments of my first bite I realized that I was a fool. The sharp acidity of the artichokes adds complexity and character to what otherwise can be a delicious, but heavy and one-note dish. Pair it with a glass of the house pinot noir and it the perfect meal.
Since my first visit I’ve been to Bello Giardino over a dozen times. Often I have to convince my friends that it’s worth a trip to the West 70’s, but they’ve never left disappointed. I’ve also been known to go alone, with book in hand, and enjoy a solitary meal on nights that I don’t feel like cooking but also don’t want to pay a princes ransom for a meal.
I order that simple pasta dish that first hooked me almost every time. I’ll consider branching out but can’t help but go back to my weak spot – a perfectly balanced sauce. For all of you who can’t make it to the Upper West Side and want to try this delicious dish at home, I’ve come up with a recipe that I think about as close as one can get without phone tapping the chef.
Pink Sauce with Artichoke Hearts
**Makes about 5 cups or enough for 6-8 people**
- 1 28oz can tomato puree
- 2/3cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half.
- Salt & Pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium. Add garlic and stir until aromatic.
- Pour in tomato puree and lower heat to medium/low. Add 1/3 can of water. Add oregano, basil, and a large pinch of salt. Stir to combine and cook until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
- Gently stir in cream and artichoke hearts. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Season to taste and serve over your favorite pasta. I suggest ravioli, manicotti, or tortellini.
Looking for a traditional vodka sauce instead? Try this one.