by Eric Ginsburg
I have to admit, I’ve only been to Gia once, but I can already tell I like this place.
I’ve yet to try anything on the chef’s menu, though the brown sugar brisket sliders, $5 roasted stuffed red pepper and the prosciutto-wrapped monkfish sound appetizing. And though I’ve tried three of the original cocktails at Gia, that’s not the main lure for me either.
It’s the setting. Picture the home library in a mansion that might be featured on “MTV Cribs,” but the kind of place you could also imagine Teddy Roosevelt sitting in a great chair by a crackling fire. There’s a seemingly private room, behind a curtain in the back left corner separate from the rest of the bar and restaurant, that fits the bill.
In fact there are three side rooms, each with a complementing but distinct atmospheres that make Gia far more complex than it appears on first blush.
I heard Colonel Mustard hangs out in the library with the candlestick on Friday nights. (No, not literally, but it conjures the appropriate mental image.)
I once ogled a whiskey and cigar room in the former Ohio governor’s mansion — at least so I was told. Add a dash of that, or any other elite yet intimate home suite dedicated to libations, to the Cribs/Roosevelt/Clue imagery transposed onto a restaurant setting, and you end up with Gia.
My description might not be exactly what Gia is going for, but I can’t be too far off. After all, the three side rooms are named the Library, Parlor and Lounge.
You can actually call ahead and make a reservation, an employee told me, for a specific room. Maybe the Parlor — with its private bar, huge chandelier, fireplace and what looks like a cabinet full of Maker’s Mark — is more your speed. The main room boasts a view of the wood-fired oven and a copious amount of comfortable seating at the unusually long marble-top bar, and it too has distinct areas along the edges including two lovers’ nooks on either side of the library-esque entryway. The Lounge towards the front hosts the restaurant/bar’s events, such as its wine society nights, whiskey events and cocktail classes.
It’s the sort of place that can get away with not having any TVs, though there are two showing things like football behind the main bar that feel a little out of sync with the sophisticated vibe. Etta James, Billie Holiday and Sinatra played as small, racially diverse groups chatted, mostly over wine, on a recent weeknight. High ceilings and long, red drapes add to the ambiance.
Gia offers an array of “designer cocktails,” which are $3 cheaper on Monday nights. Several are marked as Gia originals — try something new. Some will feel familiar, like a mojito improved with lemons and lemonade, while others less so, like one with plum wine, 2 Gingers Irish whiskey, Regan’s orange bitters and prosecco and another drink with pickled watermelon rind and sriracha. Check out the Ginger Pomegranate Margarita, another original, with Sauza blue tequila, Cointreau, ginger root, lime, pomegranate and — instead of a salted rim — sea salt lime foam bubbling on top of the rocks.
But more importantly than what you order if you go, please show up dressed as a character from Clue. We can squeeze one more week out of Halloween.
Check out Gia’s cocktail class on bitters Nov. 22 or champagne Dec. 6, or sooner at 1941 New Garden Road, Suite 208 (GSO) or drinkeatlisten.com.