For FeistyMom’s Christmas present, I told her I’d take her out for a night on the town without knowing what I’d take her to do just yet. These things have a way of working themselves out, and so they did when my darling friend KC mentioned that she’d just bought tickets for her father to go see Rain, a Beatles tribute band on Broadway. Have I posted this in the past? I took my mother to Vegas to watch Beatles’ Love, the Cirque du Soleil show, a few years ago for Mother’s Day, and another Mother’s Day, I took her and the extended fam out to see Strawberry Fields at BB Kings (which is an incredible value when you think about it – it’s a whole lot of fun, and it’s all you can eat brunch buffet on a Saturday; it’s so much fun!). In any case, my mother and I share an undying love of all things Beatles, so this was absolutely perfect. And Rain was a lot of fun, we had great seats, and we sang along to nearly every song (I admit I don’t know a lot of the later songs, unfortunately).
In any case, the point is, before the show, we had to eat of course, so I asked around and Hungry kindly made a few suggestions. I took her up on the Italian recommendation of Lattanzi, as BF was taking us out for dinner and I knew that would be his preference (and my mom was feeling down for anything).
Our bread basket arrived shortly after we were all seated, and I took the opportunity to snap a picture. The bread was good, though BF commented quite amusingly, “I hate this stupid no-butter thing some restaurants do. Olive oil just isn’t the same.”
We decided to share an appetizer ‘salad’ – caprese, or tomato, mozzarella and basil (which you can’t see in the picture). It was drizzled with a healthy amount of olive oil, slightly tangy, and while I enjoyed this overall – the tomatoes didn’t suffer from being woefully out of season – the mozzarella was a little weird. BF first remarked “Oh, fresh mozz” when he cut into it, but when we ate it, we all realized why the texture had lied to us and given the appearance of being fresh: it was heated to almost the melting point. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it was definitely different from what I was expecting. And it was still warm. Ah well.
BF ordered the bucatini all’amatriciana and really enjoyed it, commenting on how al dente the spaghetti was. I remarked that it was bucatini, hollow in the center, and he looked at me with amazement. It never ceases to amuse me how consistently surprised he is at how ‘much’ I know (not a lot, but I guess compared to him, it is?) about food. Ha. But ask him about pivot tables, and I am completely out of my league while he’s in his element.
FeistyMom and I decided to split a pasta dish and a fish entree. She was pretty agreeable to any of my suggestions, though I was surprised when she readily agreed to the housemade pasta sheets filled with spinach and ricotta, since I know she isn’t normally a huge fan of cheese. I actually thought this would be more ravioli-like by its description, so I was surprised when it arrived looking more like the filling had been spread on a sheet of pasta, the pasta subsequently rolled up, sliced and then cooked/baked. In any case, FeistyMom started eating and could not stop raving about how wonderful it was; one bite and I had to agree with her. The pasta exterior was fresh, though still fairly al dente, and the filling was creamy, redolent with savory spinach, and just perfectly melded with the shavings of parm on top. Love. FeistyMom ate one of the three pieces, declared herself full, but then struggled her way through about 3/4 of the third piece (after giving me an entire piece as my extremely generous share).
I ordered the branzino oreganata for myself, and shared a piece with FeistyMom, who ate a bite and pushed it away, declining any more. I don’t think she liked it, though I found it perfectly suitable in terms of lemony flavor, vinegary-caper goodness. The vegetables were nothing to cheer over, though the small potato croquette-like bit at the top of the place turned out to contain mozzarella, making me very happy. I cleaned my plate of fish and potato – but not buttery overcooked veggie matter – and considered myself well-sated.
Of course, when this landed in front of me, I found myself unable to resist… despite their gross misspelling of creme brulee.
BF went with his favorite classic dessert, the creme brulee. Though there was plenty of crackly topping, he wasn’t entirely pleased with the dessert, finding the texture a bit off. This didn’t stop him from just about cleaning his plate, however.
I went with one of my favorite desserts – panna cotta. Unfortunately, once again, the texture didn’t do it for me, and BF agreed that my homemade panna cotta is better. The flavor was muted – not much stood out on my tongue – so I tried to push it through the raspberry syrup drizzles as much as possible, but in the end, gave up on the dessert, half finished.
Of note: FeistyMom and I went to the show and enjoyed ourselves. BF went home and messaged me later that he didn’t feel very well, and asked how I felt. My stomach had been mostly fine though a few strange gurgles through the show, but on the train ride home, took a turn for the worse and caused me great discomfort and horrible… problems. (To put it politely, I had to get off the train, and my brother Snorlax wound up coming to pick up FeistyMom and I from a 7-11 in Long Island City, where super kind & understanding workers let me use the employee bathroom.) My mother, however, felt nothing at all and had nothing bad to say about the meal. I postulated that my dairy sensitivity – I am not lactose intolerant – may have caused me some problems, given that I had dairy in every single course, but that didn’t explain the BF’s problems… until the following week, when he said it was from a breakfast cart near Penn Station where he got an egg sandwich two Fridays in a row, and got sick both times. I’m only mentioning this because I told a few friends who knew where I ate about my problems, and this was the windup – it was probably me getting sick from my dairy sensitivity, and he got sick from his egg sandwich from a cart.
Yvo says: Reasonably priced, pretty good Italian food on Restaurant Row. I would avoid the fish – it wasn’t that good – but the pasta dishes were solid, and I don’t have any reason to believe that either BF or I got sick from the food here (FeistyMom has a more sensitive countenance than I, and she was totally fine). I will note that Lattanzi’s location directly next to Becco, where I got violently ill a few years ago, makes it slightly less busy (Becco, being one of Lidia Bastianach’s restaurants, is generally pretty packed), but that works in your favor if you’re in a last minute rush to get a table somewhere before a show nearby, and want Italian food.