The old-style good: Tertulia in the West Village, where a Spain-obsessed friend lured my consort and me for brunch after we’d already gorged at the New Amsterdam Market and where you could almost imagine the ghost of La Palapa had been vanquished unless you wound up in a quarrel over how restaurants do tend to start fine but go to hell in this town. Our table was perfect aside from the bathroom in my sight line, and the ebullient waitress held her own when challenged after spouting silliness about sobrassada being an Italian sausage or a puree of some sort (I checked out at that point). I was most impressed by the marinated mushrooms with smoked ricotta on toast as an appetizer, which were super-flavorful and mostly made me wonder how the place could pull off the dish for only $9 with pine nuts included. I also liked my $14 coca, topped with the sausage in question plus caramelized onions, Mahon and done-right quail eggs (runny but not liquid). I’m no lamb lover, but the other two at the table were wowed by the ragout over creamy polenta with an egg as well, with cheese-slathered toasts on the side. And the garbanzos with romesco sauce baked with eggs and mustard greens were also nicely done. House wine, on tap, was only $8 a tumbler but also very house-y; the Basque wine for nearly twice as much would have been sent back by our mutual friend who lives on the France-Spain border. WIGB? Absolutely. Great room, nice people, a lot of energy, plus we got out for $40 a head with tax and good tip. 359 Sixth Avenue at Washington Place, 646 559 9909.
The new-style good: Parm in Nolita, where Bob and I headed on our expedition to the Lee Friedlander xmas photo show and where our timing was perfect — he left his mobile number, we went through the gallery and two others in the same building and we got the call just as we were done. So we walked straight to a table in the back (next to a double for Megan in “Bridesmaids”). As with Chang joints, and Torrisi’s the original, this place is all about the food, not the frippery (paper placemats, napkins etc). Spicy broccoli rabe was as garlicky/fiery as at Torrisi’s, while “B&G poppers” — peppers stuffed with cheese and teamed with spicy dip — were addictive. Our one quibble with the pickled vegetables (cauliflower, celery, carrot, etc.) was simply that they would have been even better if the kitchen had held off on to serve them as a counterpoint to our shared main, an $11 meatball parm hero, the meat cooked soft, nicely seasoned and tomatoed right. WIGB? Absolutely, even though it made me laugh to think that what we were eating is standard fare in Bob’s boyhood home, where they would freak at $25 veal parm for dinner. 248 Mulberry Street between Prince and Spring, 212 993 7189.