Italian Restaurants

February 4th, 2016 § 2 comments

HG/BSK rarely eat in Italian restaurants. BSK is an expert Italian cook as is daughter Lesley R. (who has the advantage of spending many years in Italy). SJ, not only makes top shelf latkes, barbecue, Cajun stews, the talented guy makes a sumptuous bowl of linguine con vongole. Growing up in The Bronx, HG confined Italian dining to one restaurant, Dominick’s. Located in the Arthur Avenue/Belmont neighborhood, the prices were low, tastes were hearty old school, decor was no frills to the extreme, waiters were brusque. It’s still in operation. Still has huge portions. No credit cards. Communal seating. Pizza was not a universal American food in HG’s youth. First tried some, age 5, on busy Bathgate Avenue. Thought it was cherry pie. Mom finally bought little HG a slice (cost 2 cents). Big disappointment. HG has never been a big pizza fans though, when young, HG did fancy the very oily, very cheesy pies at Joe’s on Jerome Avenue (Kingsbridge neighborhood) and Half Moon (Arthur Avenue). The years rolled by. HG/BSK made many trips to Italy. Favorite dishes: Seppie stew with linguine in Venice (plus all the fish and shellfish); Bollito Misto in Bologna as well as (natch) Tagliatelle con Ragu Bolognese; very rare Steak Fiorentina with Tuscan beans in Florence; pasta smothered in delicious, expensive white truffle shavings in Rome. Mouthwatering memories. In New York, HG/BSK’s favorite Italian restaurant was Delsomma on W. 47th Street. HG/BSK were introduced to it by the late (and very much missed) composer Michael Small and his wife, Lynn. This was the restaurant where HG/BSK had their very first meal with Massimo R., then the nervous boyfriend of daughter Lesley. (Massimo and Lesley celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this month). Read all about Delsomma (closed for more than 20 years, alas) on hungrygerald: Gone But Not Forgotten Restaurants: Delsomma. Paul and Jimmy’s on Irving Place was another favorite (Pesce –fish– Livornese was a specially). That’s gone but two other favorites are still operating –Patsy’s on W. 56th Street and Patsy’s Pizzeria and Restaurant on 1st Avenue and 118th Street. The 56th Street Patsy’s was a favorite of Frank Sinatra and mobster Frank Costello. In 1956, HG had HG’s first public relations office on the floor just above the restaurant. Knowing that HG was struggling financially, Patsy’s kind and generous owners would feed HG delicious food at discounted prices.(“Hey. Kid, you’re a neighbor, right?”). The other Patsy’s was a favorite during HG’s days as a journalist. Favorite dishes were clams oreganato and spaghetti olio et aglio. In those days (1951-1955), Patsy’s was a busy place much favored by cops and mob guys. Specialized (as it still does) in pizza. HG/BSK visited it one night in the 1970’s when BSK was in the mood for pizza. Drugs had taken over the neighborhood. HG/BSK were the only customers except for junkies who kept darting in the bathrooms to shoot up. The pizza, however, was devastatingly good. Prepared by two old people who cooked with knowledge and love. Business picked up at Patsy’s (In business for more than 75 years) after Woody Allen, surprisingly, showed up with a group of showbiz pals in the early 80s, ordered pizza and raved. Word got around. The restaurant now thrives under a second generation of owners. Still a cash only policy. HG is sure it’s good but when next in New York, will continue to get an Italian food fix at Vic’s, daughter Victoria’s new venture on Great Jones Street. Superlative, innovative Italian cooking.

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