Argentina celebrates a special day on the 29th of every month: gnocchi day. Because there’s such a big Italian influence in the city, much of what is “Argentine” food is really a mix of steak (from the pampas) and pasta (from The Boot). It became tradition to eat gnocchi on the 29th of each month because it was near the end of the month, money was low, and if you had a few simple ingredients in the pantry–potatoes, flour, and eggs–you could make yourself a filling and satisfying meal.
So fast forward to yesterday, the 29th of December, when I went to a quirky Italian restaurant in our ‘hood to celebrate gnocchi day like a good porteña. Il Ballo del Mattone in Palermo Hollywood could just as well be a funky art space, but on top of that, it’s a restaurant that serves great traditional Italian dishes. Every wall, surface, and space in the restaurant in painted with street art (graffiti to those of you less cultured), or hung with framed art and decorated with hipster-y antiques. AND, if that weren’t enough, they play songs like “Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze and “I Got Five on It” by Luniz (yea, you never knew who sang that song, did you?). Not quite the “When the moon hits your eye” type of Italian trattoria, but when the place is pumping “Ice, Ice Baby”–which then prompts you to do the running man when you enter the restaurant [which I may or may not have done]–you can’t help but love the irony. Anyway, cue pics from the restaurant (my camera was dying just as I was trying to take these pictures, so I snapped some fast ones):