Tonawanda News — Mary Ann Giordano hopes customers don’t get the wrong idea when they realize part of the name of her new Kenmore restaurant — GiGi’s Cucina Povera — means “peasant cooking” in Italian.
“It’s comfort food and it’s things that people crave,” she said of the menu, which features an eclectic mix of what she describes as Sicilian and Mediterranean food.
To be clear, this is no Italian restaurant taking occupancy on Kenmore Avenue in the former home of O’Connell’s American Bistro and Hourglass restaurant.
“There really isn’t a categorization on Urban Spoon or Yelp for what we are,” Giordano said of GiGi’s, which opened June 14 and is named after her daughter, Gabriella Giordano.
Sicily is “part of Italy, (but its culture is) actually more broad because it’s an island and it was conquered many times by many cultures. It’s kind of a melting pot of cultures,” combing the likes of Greek, Arab, Viking, Roman and Norman influences.
As such, the menu features a variety of small plates, pastas and appetizers instead of going heavy on large, one-dish entrees. Giordano encourages customers to select multiple dishes and share with each other.
It’s the unique combination of flavors and ingredients, she says, that makes GiGi’s stand out.
There’s not much meat on Giordano’s menu — there’s only one steak on the menu — because by its very nature, it’s too expensive to be the main focus of traditional peasant food.
“People of Sicily couldn’t afford that type of food so it was very rare when they would kill the cow because they want the milk,” she said.
The menu features fried cardoons, a Sicilian standby of egg-battered and fried cardoon plants, which are found by foraging; cauliflower froggia, an omelette dressed with greens and pecorino; and chicken livers with marsala and sage.