New York Minutes/Early May 2010

The pretty good: Tre Otto on the Upper East Side, where my consort and I went in search of material for our co-op newsletter when we couldn’t face the two “new” places on our side of the park (the latest incarnations of Roth’s steakhouse and La Rural) and where the evening would have been a nightmare if we had not been accepted as walk-ins and escorted straight to a corner table in the back of the surprise garden. The narrow dining room was full of just the kind of rich, fixed fucks who ruin all UES restaurants; it sounded about as serene as a subway car, and a waitress on the run jostled me as we were waiting for the hostess’s attention. Outside was an oasis, and we stayed mellow even after seeing only one waiter had all the tables. But he was great, both personable and efficient, so we soon had wineglasses and an ice bucket for our BYOB rosé from K&D down the avenue plus good bread and olive oil. He made the grilled scamorza appetizer sound irresistible, and it was, laid over spinach with a nice drizzle of sauce. Rigatoni alla norma had been cooked and sauced right, but the eggplant was pretty taste-free. And the pizza oreganata was missing a certain herb, and could have used a few more minutes in the oven to crisp the crust, but we didn’t mind because the balance of tomatoes, anchovies, garlic and asiago was ideal. Plus we got away for all of $41 and a tip. The walk across the staggeringly green park beforehand was just Italian-American gravy. WIGB? Absolutely. But only if we were guaranteed a seat outside. 1408 Madison Avenue near 96th Street, 212 860 8888.

Also, I forgot to note that Bob and I recently had Motorino pizza, three kinds, at our friends’ apartment right down the street from the oven. It was okay.