Back From NYC

November 16, 2009

Well, I am about five pounds heavier. That’s not only due to the trip to New York, but also the fact that I stayed with my roommates Italian family. Seriously, the Costco in Hillsborough, NJ must have seen a spike in sales this weekend thanks to the Rauch family (shout out!).

As far as the trip to the city went, my friends and I were greeted with a downpour of rain. We strolled around in Macy’s for a little bit until we all decided it was time for some food. First stop? A slice of New York style pizza.

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We were pretty risky and didn’t even look up an exact pizza location. Why? Because there are literally at least five pizza places on every block in the city. And I’d have to say a majority of them are delicious. Now, this pizza was no Famous Ray’s Pizza (which by the way, if you’re in the city go there. And don’t get that confused with Ray Bari’s pizza. They are different and the latter is not as good). We didn’t have a Ray’s nearby but we did find a “Famous Little Italy Pizza.” It’s sad but whenever “famous” is in the title I assume it’s delicious. My assumptions were correct.

A slice of cheese pizza on the right had a super crispy crust and was nice and thin. This place also had pizza made with vodka sauce. Didn’t see that till after I ordered. Yes, my heart dropped a little with that mistake.

Even if you’re in Virginia and you see a place advertising their “NY Style Pizza” you should know it will never taste like the real thing.  Some say the minerals in the NYC tap water help make the dough unlike any other (same goes for the bagels). According to some articles online, some out-of-state pizza makers even transport the water cross-country for the sake of authenticity.

The slice on the left is what’s known as the Grandma’s. With fresh basil, mozzarella and tomato sauce I found this to have more flavor compared to the regular pizza slice. Still delicious and to be honest if you’re getting a slice of bad pizza in the city then chances are they aren’t going to be there for much longer.

We kept moving and made our way through Times Square and Rockefeller. Hours passed and viola! We were hungry again. Luckily I knew my way around Midtown because I lived there this summer and one restaurant on my list to try was always Fresco by the Scotto Family. I knew they had good reviews and they are kind of famous if you watch the Today Show.

We walked in thinking we may be a little out of place with our jeans and soaking shoes. And we definitely thought we would be waiting for a table since it was 7:30 on a Saturday night. Instead, we were greeted by the hostess and when we told her nervously that we needed a table for five she just smiled and said “no problem.” They set up our table quickly and we were on our way to being seated.You can tell this restaurant wants to uphold that family style restaurant vibe because the mother (seen in the video above) was sitting in the smaller dining room chatting with a table who looked like regulars.

When I was in the city this summer I always scanned my eyes like a mad woman looking for famous people when I entered a restaurant. This restaurant is often recommended by Regis Philbin so I thought I would for sure stumble upon SOMEONE on a Saturday night. ANYONE! But no.

I decided it would be more important to focus on the night itself and enjoying my friend’s company and the food. Blah blah blah. I know I’ll hear tomorrow that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were spotted leaving Fresco on Sunday night.

After reading some food reviews of other critics I have found it to be a common occurrence that you know you’re not really welcomed in a restaurant if they give you a hard time at the door or if they stick you in a table in the back corner. I prepared myself for a crummy table or poor service. Instead, our table was right in the middle of the white tablecloth restaurant.

I started off with some of that famous NYC tap water and a glass of Montepulciano. A glass of this exact wine at L’Italia Pizza & Pasta in Harrisonburg is $6. My glass last night was $11. Oh, New York how I’ve missed you.

The staff at Fresco is very knowledgeable about every dish on the menu and our waitress indeed knew how to discreetly bring her tip up. The waitress nonchalantly asked my friend if she’d like to start with an apple martini. My friends and I all peer pressured her into the drink saying “C’mon! How often are you in New York!?” Well, that martini was $15. Whoops.

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Our waitress  asked our table if we would like to get some famous (there’s that word again) Fresco bread. My friends and I all made eye contact and we were thinking to ourselves “free bread? Uhh, yes lady. Duh. Bring it on over.” Long thin bread stick and crispy thin bread with bits of sage were hot and served with some homemade hummus. Delicious and even more delicious at the time because we thought it was free. Yeah, turned out to be $8. Oh, New York how my wallet has missed you. If you do make a trip here I would say bypass the bread and upgrade to the zuchinni potato chip and gorgonzola cheese tower. I can’t count how many times I saw this dish make its way to the tables.

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The restaurant itself has rustic Italian paintings lined along the wall and the dining room itself  at times seems squished. I was reminded of that every so often when my chair was bumped by a waiter as he tried to make his way through.

For my entree, I went with the Penne with Chicken & Veal Bolognese. The veal and chicken were ground up and mixed in with the fresh tomato sauce. I was surprised how much meat was in the dish — but then again it was $25. Sorry, there were technical difficulties with uploading the entree picture. If it gets worked out I will be sure to update.

I guess my point in this post is that everything was indeed pricey and I know there are better restaurants in NY. But to be honest, everyone enjoyed their meals and when I look back on this weekend I know I’ll remember the food and not the prices.

And yes, that’s also how I am going to become in debt.

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