The right port in a nonstorm: Regional, where a friend and I hooked up with my consort after “Selected Shorts” down the street, The place was scary-empty, but that was good for us, with no din and great service. All we wanted was snacks, but the bar snacks were only available at the bar and we were on the banquette in the bar. Bob got a decent baby arugula-and-tomato salad, our friend didn’t complain about what seemed to be goat cheese in her beet salad where Gorgonzola was promised and I was more than fine with my balm: polenta sticks with fonduta. With a glass of wine each and a shared slab of bread with bean puree, we got away for $20 apiece including tip. WIGB? Undoubtedly for location and price, although I have to say walking past there a few days later and seeing a young chef walk out and energetically hawk all over the sidewalk was not exactly enticing. 2607 Broadway near 98th Street, 212 666 1915.
Archive for February, 2009
The good: Salumeria Rosi, where a friend offered to treat me to a birthday drink and snack and where we wound up staggering from Cesare’s beneficence. I got there first for a 5:30 connection, and the hostess seated me with a warning that the table was needed back by 7 or 7:30, so I ordered a glass of $9 tocai and as the waiter was explaining the menu an “Italian spritzer” landed — prosecco with Aperol. Another followed for Donna when she arrived, so we huddled over the menu choosing small plates. They all actually turned out to be the most satisfying tastes of the night, but it was hard to complain about the succession of indulgences sent from the kitchen: prosciutto bread; a beyond-generous platter of salumi; squash risotto with pumpkinseeds; caponata and heirloom-bean salad; salt cod, and Gorgonzola with candied almonds. We were more taken with the beyond-tender heirloom pork rib, the culatello, the green of the day (Swiss chard) and especially the lasagne, a small square of totally tender pasta layered with just enough ragu, cheese and sauce. Through all that, we somehow found room for three desserts, of which the date toffee cake was the most amazing. WIGB? Early for sure, and maybe with a bag over my head. 283 Amsterdam Avenue near 74th Street, 212 877 4800.
The not bad: Fairway Cafe yet again, where we retreated with Dr. and Lady Bugs after the beyond-abysmal “Wrestler” and where the cheap wine compensated for the soup sold as pizza and the rathah scary bathrooms (Dr. B lived in India for a month on a pittance and still decided he could count on his camel bladder to get him home to Brooklyn before he would brave a backed-up toilet as employees were voiding). We were there late on a Sunday night, and so the real amazement was that the branzino was not totally geriatric. I didn’t try our just-back-from-Argentina friends’ huge steaks (hanger, strip), or the shrimp chowder starter one got on the prix fixe, but their fries were good. The free flatbread was half-baked, though. We had a new, great waitress with serious personality, and the wine was all we wanted: cheap. For the first time, though, Bob left saying it was depressing. I reminded him the food is usually great. Plus the wine is extraordinarily cheap. And no fingers were excised in slicers like in the crapflick.
The transporting: Yakitori Totto, where seven of us hooked up for a little orgy of skewers etc. and where we learned to let the regular do the ordering — get greedy and you wind up with Vienna sausages made of chicken. Gyoza were exceptional, probably the best I’ve had in New York. But she also suggested good chicken and tofu and pork and indulged us with the asparagus wrapped in bacon; what’s great is that you can order by the $3 piece as you so rarely can with other cuisines. We didn’t try the dessert she was lusting after (and I didn’t steal a menu), but the green tea ice cream dusted with matcha was a good ending. The service was quite good, too; we’ve never been eased out so gracefully with people lined up for our table in a little front room. 251 West 55th Street, 212 245 4555.
The worth notice even though I am dispirited: Sookk delivered decent Thai for a Saturday lunch, El Paso came through with great enchiladas for me if not satisfaction for my two escorts and the Mermaid Inn was the right place to head for an early dinner after our kick-in-the-gut loss (Bob let me order clam chowder and french fries as my dinner — you take your balm where you find it).