We are a locally owned business serving the freshest of local ingredients in a Sicilian country atmosphere. Chef Mary Ann Giordano, the author of the best-selling Saint Joseph’s Day Table Cookbook and a Nickel City Chef competitor, is excited to showcase her ancestral recipes in her restaurant at 981 Kenmore Avenue. Open since June 2013, Gigi’s occupies the former location of O’Connell’s, and previously the iconic Hourglass restaurant. Chef and Owner Mary Ann Giordano has been cooking locally for more than 30 years and was the executive chef at the Creekview Restaurant in Williamsville before opening Gigi’s Cucina Povera. She has also taught cooking classes at the Auburn Watson Culinary Center.
The restaurant’s name is a tribute to both her Sicilian heritage and her daughter, Gabriella Giordano. La Cucina Povera is an Italian phrase that means “cooking of the poor,” or “peasant cooking.” On a deeper level, it reflects a philosophy that is common to all cultures: making do with what you have to transform humble ingredients into dishes that are more than the sum of their parts. At Gigi’s, expect to eat “great food made with simple, fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients at affordable prices.”
The menu is definitively Mediterranean, featuring many Sicilian favorites. Sicily has a long rich history and has endured foreign occupation many times. As a result, Sicilian cuisine encompasses a broader flavor palette than its kissing cousin, Italian. With each invasion, another group of ingredients was incorporated into the cuisine. There is ample evidence of Greek, Spanish, Norman, Arabic and other influences. All left their mark on Sicily’s culinary landscape and will turn up in dishes at Gigi’s.
Chef Giordano has designed the menu with sharing in mind. The substantial menu offers an array of small plates, sandwiches, salads, and pasta which are available in 2 sizes, as well as classic entrees like chicken Marsala, veal Scallopini, and eggplant parmesan. The affordable prices and small plate format make it easy to share and take the opportunity to explore many flavors. Healthy dining options and gluten-free dishes are also on the menu. The primarily Italian/Sicilian wine list includes several New York State bottles, as well. The Italian theme continues with classic cocktails like the Godfather, Bellini, Aperol Spritz, and Negroni.
Giordano has transformed the space to reflect her Sicilian heritage. A mural by local artist Sara Carbrey adorns the back wall, and all of the paintings are the work of Paul B. Giordano M.D, Chef Mary Ann’s father, and Cookbook co-author. The barn wood accents throughout are from the chef’s 1800s-era Ellicottville barn. We are delighted to have you as guests and sincerely hope you enjoy your evening with us!