New York minutes/Mid-October 2008

The pretty good: Porchetta in the East Village, where my consort and I trekked after the Greenmarket even though he would have preferred a sit-down lunch as Saturday-usual and where the sandwich alone was worth the schlep, as promised by the Robs. The perfect roll from Sullivan Street Bakery sopped up the fat and was just the right contrast between crusty and tender. The pork itself is outstanding, seriously seasoned and beautifully cooked (although also seriously salty, and I could eat salt as an entree), but it was better on bread for $9 than as a $12 plate with excellent broccoli rabe and nicely spiced white beans. We also split an order of roasted potatoes and burnt ends, also quite good. It all held up even though we shared it all on a park bench in bizarre Tompkins Square — a little unnerving to see a drunk getting hauled into an ambulance as we walked in; Central Park is Epcot Center by comparison. WIGB? Eventually. The pork is undeniably outstanding, but the order taker needs a better system for sure. 110 East Seventh Street, 212 777 2151.

The adequate: Thalia in the insane Theater District, where we ducked in for a glass of wine and Caesar salad as an alternative to Toloache after the unsettling “Religulous” (some scenes a little too close to a Palin rally for comfort). The hostess tried to shunt us off to a cramped little table in the noisy lounge, but we moved to the bar and the bartender was excellent. The good salad came almost as fast as the $9 wine. 828 Eighth Avenue at 50th Street, 212 399 4444.