Wednesday, August 31, 2011

These Are Not My Friends

Pollo al Forno -- Barbuto

Like all great book club meetings, ours begins with a debacle.

As previously mentioned, we created our own book club last year, which we entitled Booze Before Books (by now, you should be aware of where our priorities lie).  By some miracle, we manage to read a book each month by such literary titans as Julie Klausner, Sloane Crosley, Bethenny Frankel, and for this particular meeting, Betty White.  But mostly, we do a lot of dining out.
We Can Only Befriend Excessive Eaters
And when we can manipulate the situation to our preferences, we dine out at Best Thing I Ever Ate locations.
Tah Dah
This scenario is how the Booze Before Books members end up at Barbuto to try Tyler Florence's chosen BETTER THAN MINE dish, the pollo al forno, and to discuss the life and times of our favorite Golden Girl.
Unfortunately Sans Cheesecake
True to form, Vodka arrives first and attempts to check in for our reservation.  Giving her first name, she is escorted by one of the hostesses to a table.  Mildly shocked that anyone has arrived before her, Vodka follows the hostess obediently.  At least, she's obedient until they arrive at a half-full table and the hostess pulls out a chair for Vodka to sit.

Vodka takes one glance at these diners, and instead of the slightly tipsy faces of the Booze Before Books members, she finds three strangers.

"I don't know these people," she whisper-yells to the hostess.

The hostess, insistent that Vodka must be experiencing amnesia, confirms again that she has the same name as this foreign reservation and looks at her expectantly.

"These are not my friends," Vodka assures her.  We retreat to the hostess stand, where it is revealed (by Vodka not-so-patiently whipping out the OpenTable app on her phone) that the hostesses have checked these interlopers in under our reservation.  Of course, the other Booze Before Books members begin to arrive at just this time, and smirk in appreciation of the shenanigan under way.

All's well that ends well, and we are eventually seated at our own table, but not before Vodka decides that, even though her real first name is not particularly common, she's just going to have to start going by Vodka at all times in order to cut down on the confusion.
And She's Going to Have to Start Drinking, Stat
Anyway, we assemble at our table and immediately feel as elderly as Betty White herself.  Barbuto is SO LOUD that we have to lean within inches of each other in order to make some sort of conversation.

"Why are we the only ones having trouble hearing?" Ginger asks.  "No one else seems to be having an issue."  But looking at the surrounding tables, we discover the reason no one else is in need of hearing aids: they're not even attempting to speak to each other.

Apparently, Barbuto is the place to go if you don't want to talk to your friends.  In fact, as we have also learned, Barbuto is the place to go if you do not even want to be seated with your friends in the first place.

Acquiring our wine, we sip it at a much slower pace than usual because not only have we been told that our chicken dishes (which we have all ordered.  When in Rome...) will take 35 minutes, we have nothing on which to nosh save for a few sad-looking olives.  Would it kill Jonathan Waxman to serve his guests a bread basket, for goodness sake?  Demerit.
This Lull Causes Ginger to Ramble About Her Irrational Hatred of Teardrop-Shaped Water Glasses
Now, our waitress does tell us that our entrees will take over a half hour to appear, but she does so in the not-so-subtle way of trying to force us into ordering appetizers.  In fact, she tries to push an appetizer on each and every one of us as we order, which is a case of overselling if there ever was one.  Demerit.

Luckily, in our wait for our chicken, we have more than enough time to hear Ginger prattle on about her anxieties concerning her upcoming trip to El Salvador, up to and including such gems as "If you look at the malaria map, as I have many times...."  When our dinners finally arrive, it is all she can do not to stash half of her chicken in her handbag to save as rations for her trek across Central America.
Do We Think This Would Make It Through Customs?
Onto the pollo al forno (which, let's be clear, is glorified roast chicken).  Each plate arrives with four massive pieces of chicken parts assembled around a bright green helping of salsa verde.  Featuring crispy skin on the outside and unbelievably tender and succulent meat on the inside, the pollo al forno is indeed quite good.  For chicken.

And this "for chicken" distinction turns out to be our main problem: roast chicken is one of those dishes we would never, ever order at a restaurant, if for no other reason than it is boring.  It is also one of the things we are capable of making at home.  Is Barbuto's version better than ours, and presumably better than Tyler Florence's?  Sure.  But in the end, pollo al forno is still just a roast chicken with a fancy name.  And roast chicken is simply not very interesting.
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? Cause He Was Bored to Death
Truth to tell, Vodka believes this chicken meat needs some salt (of course), and Ginger is much more taken with the sides of crispy potatoes and sweet corn she has ordered than with the chicken itself.
Obviously Not Created During the Potato Famine
Corn That Tastes Like It Was Glazed with Pure Honey
We don't even think we would order the chicken again if we came to Barbuto, and due to the noise factor, we won't be rushing back to begin with (plus, as we're sitting directly under one of the raised garage doors that serve as Barbuto's external walls, we spend most of our meal in fear of being crushed by a faulty spring (Ginger: "How ironic would it be if I died of a garage door attack in New York before I even got to El Salvador?")).

Needless to say, our next Booze Before Books meeting will be taking place at an establishment that serves bread baskets, invests in noise insulators, and knows Vodka by name.
Barbuto's Pollo al Forno: 3 stars

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breakfast? You Two Do the Oddest Things

Truffled Egg Toast -- 'Ino Cafe
'Ino Cafe

As unfathomable as it may sound, we have managed, through the years, to get other people to be our friends. 

We're not saying that we're completely unlikable people on our own, as we have each managed to procure quite enough friends to sustain us through life.  However, we tend to take pity on our mutual friends, as they are forced to put up with our inane conversations and nonsensical quests to have the Food Network dictate everything we eat.

One such mutual college friend (we all met in the marching band, so you can imagine the glowing level of hipness among us) came for a New York visit.  Naturally, we forced her into the action of our Best Thing I Ever Ate adventures with a trip to 'Ino Cafe to eat Scott Conant's favorite EGGSTRAORDINARY dish, the truffled egg toast.
Me Smell Truffle
We are set to arrive at what Ginger believes is the ungodly hour of 9:00am.  Unfortunately, come 9:00am, the only member of our party present at 'Ino Cafe is not only the one from out of town, but the one who had to travel the farthest across Manhattan in order to arrive.  Clearly, we fail at life (and as she later describes her recent forays to Europe, we realize just how hard we have failed).

Having both decided to try to walk off an eighth of the massive amounts of fried chicken and boxed wine we had consumed the day before, we arrive, panting, just after 9:00am.  The reason we are meeting so early in the first place is not just for scheduling convenience, but also because 'Ino Cafe is absurdly tiny, and Vodka is convinced that we will have to wait for a table if we arrive much after opening (and Vodka hates to wait almost as much as she hates to wait in the sun).  But when we stumble into 'Ino Cafe ten minutes after opening, metaphorical crickets can be heard: the place is empty.  In fact, it remains empty for 90% of our dining experience.  Clearly, Ginger isn't the only one in Manhattan who hates to eat early.
But the Early Bird Catches the... Egg?
And speaking of eating early, when Vodka had informed her mother that she and Ginger were meeting their friend for breakfast, her mother had responded, "Breakfast?  Who meets for breakfast?  You two do the oddest things."

In fact, breakfast is a rather convenient meal when your life philosophy is "It's Not Even Noon Somewhere."  Therefore, Vodka has no issue downing a bellini at 9:30am, and our guest joins her in mimosa consumption.
Mid-Morning Cocktails
Ginger, lamenting the previous day's box of wine and her subsequent pitcher of margaritas, sticks with (what Vodka finds to be appalling) black tea.
Poor Showing, Ginger
Our friend, who will have her Ph.D. in at least 18 subjects before the two of us figure out how to get anyone but our parents to read our blog, informs us that many studies have been completed at her academic institution showcasing the fact that people who drink alcohol regularly live much longer.  Ginger's assessment of this scientific fact?  "We're gonna live forever."

Onto the food, Vodka orders the chosen truffled egg toast, which arrives reeking of truffle oil (the one foodie smell we have now mastered).  A runny egg is perched on top of a thick slab of toast, all coated by a warm layer of chewy melted cheese and, of course, the truffle oil.  Miniature sprigs of asparagus also dot the plate, but they seem more an afterthought than part of the dish itself.  Stabbing into the egg, the yolk runs out across the cheese and toast (this runny yolk phenomenon is the reason Ginger refused to order the dish herself, as she apparently hates to see runny eggs in the morning).
Egg Running a Marathon
Biting in, the toast is crunchy and slightly tough on the corners but soft and warm on the inside, and it is in fact quite tasty.  Frankly, the combination of bread, cheese, and truffle oil would be fairly difficult to screw up, but the bird's nesting of the egg does indeed add to the proceedings.  If anything, the toast is a bit small for its $9 price, but the taste alone is worth it.
Cheese + Bread = Our Idea of a Good Time
Being unable to eat runny eggs before noon, Ginger decides on the Italian BLT, which has pancetta, lemon mayonnaise, rucola, and tomato in between two white slices of crustless bread.
Oh, and Some Lonely Looking Olives
This choice, too, proves to be pretty good, if nothing to write home about (Vodka believes an increase in bacon could have pushed the dish over the top, and the crustless bread makes it rather like an English tea time finger sandwich).
Fetch Us a Spot of Tea
And finally, our friend chooses the egg and cheese panino with sweet onion, which is a heftier sandwich than the other two and rather enjoyable (if a bit too sweet onion-heavy). 
Onion Overflow
As Ginger examines the lemon mayo on her sandwich, Vodka relates the fact that one of our other friends hates condiments in all forms, an opinion which horrifies Ginger, as she proclaims, "That's why I eat food: the condiments."  Therefore, perhaps the only thing standing in between the truffled egg toast and 5 star rating is a side of ketchup.

'Ino Cafe's Truffled Egg Toast: 4 stars

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Think We're Going to Need the Large Box

Mama Els' Recipe Chicken -- Hill Country Chicken
Hill Country Chicken 

Let's be clear: Hill Country Chicken could serve spam and Ginger would most likely still frequent the place merely for its music selection.

A country music aficionado, she can be found warbling along with the likes of George Strait, Josh Turner, and Trace Adkins throughout our meal, while Vodka, whose musical taste begins and ends with the stylings of Bernadette Peters, looks on in judgment.

Lucky for Vodka, we are not at Hill Country Chicken only for Ginger's personal country karaoke session: we are here to eat Scott Conant's favorite FRIED CHICKEN: the Mama Els' Recipe, along with about 87 side dishes and a box of wine.
They Do Chicken Right
Entering Hill Country Chicken, it is a miracle that we found the place, as Vodka had mistakenly made us reservations at Hill Country BBQ, which is about a block away and the same in just about every aspect except one: it doesn't serve chicken.  Minor detail.

Anyway, we join the excessively long and winding line of poultry eaters and consult the menu board.  Vodka's suggestion of getting the Pick of the Chick sampling to split between us is shot down by Ginger, who believes eight pieces of meat is about seven too many.  After all of this scoffing about overeating, however, we proceed to place an order that includes just about every item that Hill Country Chicken offers: chicken, biscuits, cole slaw, corn salad, pimento macaroni and cheese, banana cream pie, and a box of wine.
Pretty Little Boxes
Yes, that's right: a box of wine.  Hill Country Chicken serves boxed wine.  To say we are in our element would be an understatement.

Considering it is mid-afternoon, Ginger at first thinks it is preposterous to order anything other than the small box, especially after the server explains that it contains two-thirds of a bottle of wine.  More than enough, right?  Wrong.

Upon laying eyes on the small box of wine, which is much more akin to a Minute Maid juice box, Vodka, without even bothering to consult Ginger, says to the server, "I think we're going to need the large box."
Supersize Me
(This choice is subsequently mocked by the server himself, who inquires whether we are done working for the day or just "have the best jobs ever," and he seems mildly disappointed to hear it is the former).

Acquiring our trays of food, we stumble upon an open table mere feet from the cash register, a rarity during the hustle and bustle of the lunch rush.  Pouncing on it, it is not until we sit down that we realize why the table had been vacant: it is approximately the size of a pool table, with only two chairs.
Beauty and the Beast-Sized Dining Arrangement
At first, Ginger tries to rectify this problem by pulling her chair up next to Vodka's, but when she feels this maneuver has placed her in the way of other customers, we have to resort to holding (read: yelling) a conversation from five feet away in an incredibly loud establishment.  Needless to say, upon leaving Hill Country Chicken hours later, we discover that we had spent most of the time in various states of confusion by misinterpreting at least half of what the other person was saying.  (And in truth, the large box of wine probably did not help this matter much).

Back to the food: we dive into the Best Thing I Ever Ate choice first, and it is indeed everything that Scott Conant had promised.
Little Drummer Boy
Unfathomably moist and tender, the chicken meat pulls easily off of the bones, and it is coated in a thin but tasty layer of crispy breading.
Finger Lickin' Good
Though Scott Conant feared he would be criticized by the fried chicken faithful for advocating a bird sans skin, Mama Els' Recipe chicken is so scrumptious that one doesn't even notice the skin is missing.  It is so good, in fact, that at the end of our meal, Vodka procures two more pieces to take home for "dinner" (and proceeds to eat them an hour later).

Please, Sir, I Want Some More
Living up to the hype of the chicken itself is the selection of side dishes, each of which is more mouth-watering than the next.  The cole slaw is much more crispy than soggy, as the cabbage has merely been "dressed" in the dressing, rather than smothered.  Ginger, a cole slaw fan in all seasons, mops it up with the enthusiasm of a child at a backyard barbeque.
A Hearty Cup of Slaw
Similarly outstanding is the corn salad, which is both slightly sweet and vaguely spicy, due to a proliferation of ingredients that we like but don't necessarily recognize.  The corn itself is a deep yellow and highlighted by juicy red tomatoes and crisp scallions, among other less obvious components.  It proves to be Vodka's vegetable of choice ("I love a corn"), and she devours it as if it were grown in her home Garden State of New Jersey.
Why Does the Word "Corny" Have Such a Negative Connotation with Masterpieces Like This to Its Name?
And finally: the pimento macaroni and cheese.  Holy mother of macaroni, this dish is ridiculous.
And We Mean Ridiculous in the Best Way Possible
Thick spiral noodles clutch mounds of gooey, slightly tangy pimento cheese, and it rivals some of the best macaroni and cheese we have ever tasted (and we know our way around a macaroni and cheese, Kraft or otherwise).  Sadly, this dish is not yet an everyday item, as it was listed as a special on the menu board, but its popularity should hopefully make it a fixture on the menu.
A Yellow Color Palate
The biscuit, which in this meal, seems almost an afterthought, is flaky and appealing, if less showy than all of the other food before us.  It tastes of enough butter to make Paula Deen proud, and it is more scone-like in look and texture than biscuits we have had in the past (a slab of fresh butter and Vodka's go-to salt shaker probably would have made it delectable).
Not Your Dog's Biscuit
And as if all of that eating weren't enough, we have the slice of banana cream pie with which to contend.  First of all, the pie is a thing of beauty: a light, thin crust holding together an overflowing layer of banana pudding and topped by droplets of fresh whipped cream.  It is a masterpiece, and its taste is just as satisfying.  The banana cream itself tastes almost identical to the banana pudding served at Magnolia Bakery, but it is enhanced by both the mildly sweet crust and the whipped cream.
Four and Twenty Bananas Baked in a Pie
Hill Country Chicken: you done good.
A Scene from Overeaters Anonymous
By the time we manage to get through our whole large box of wine, our meal has been long over, and we are back to discussing Ginger's favorite poet laureate: Ke$ha.  (Having performed a Ke$ha karaoke number after a few too many boxes of wine weeks ago, Ginger is fuzzy on the details as to what she actually sang, but she tells Vodka, "I wish you had been there for my drunken karaoke of Ke$ha."  This statement leads Vodka to retort, "I wish YOU had been there for your drunken karaoke of Ke$ha.")
Unfortunately, It Had Been Another Evening Spent with Boxed Wine, Spilled or Otherwise
Ginger continues to sing along to the country masters as we accidentally stumble into Eataly and Vodka gets lost (vowing to herself to save the fried chicken in her bag above all else).  If this afternoon has taught us anything, it is this: if given the choice, ALWAYS go with the large box of wine.

Hill Country Chicken's Mama Els' Recipe Chicken: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

Monday, August 22, 2011

That Was a Foodie Turning Point

Glazed Eel -- The Monday Room
The Monday Room

How people manage to eat dinner after 6:00pm is beyond us.

By 6:00pm, we are ravenous.  So hungry that even the 6:30pm reservation we have procured at The Monday Room seems entirely too late.  True to form, we check in for our dinner a full half hour early, and even truer to form, we are the only diners present in the entire establishment.

Needless to say, we're well-prepared for our futures of nursing room early bird specials.

The hostess greets Vodka by her first name upon entry, making it obvious that we are the only ones with mid-afternoon reservations, and perhaps the only idiots to have made reservations at all.  Ginger, never one for clock-reading, chuckles at the ludicrous fact that we are 23 minutes early.  When Vodka points out that we are actually 33 minutes ahead of time, the absurdity only grows.  Particularly after Ginger admits that she has already been prowling the block for 10 minutes in search of The Monday Room's entrance, as she heard via her academic research (Yelp) that it is hard to find (in truth, it is merely to the left of the door to The Public restaurant, the discovery of which left Ginger wandering aimlessly for entirely too many minutes).

We are seated outside at prime table real estate: next to the open vestibule with a view of what appears to be a cemetery, a lion statue, a shopping cart, and a broken down bicycle.  Hello Soho.
Scenic Overlook
Contemplating the cocktail menu, Ginger laments that The Monday Room seems most well-versed in wine, and this specialty list is lost on us because "We are not wine people."

"I'm a wine person," Vodka insists.  "It just all tastes the same to me."

Skipping the overwhelming wine selection, we instead order the Bitter Sweet and the Monday Fizz cocktails, though the only words we recognize in the ingredients are "vodka" and "sugar," respectively ("Is cognac a gin or a whiskey?").  When the waiter later apologizes for the delay in the cocktails' appearance, explaining that they've been unable to locate the Tokay for Vodka's drink, Vodka looks at the waiter and just smiles.  Clearly, we have absolutely no idea what he's talking about.
May or May Not Include Tokay
Examining the food menu, we are at first perplexed by the lack of $6 options, as Ginger's academic resources (Yelp) had proclaimed the greatness of the Monday night cheap menu.  In fact, as the waiter prattles a long-winded explanation of the ham special of the day, Ginger has to bite her tongue to not follow up with "But is it $6?"

With nary a Value Menu in sight, we settle on four items to share, including the glazed eel, as recommended by Claire Robinson on the TOTALLY UNEXPECTED episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Ginger, back in her domineering mode, does all of the ordering, which Vodka follows up by immediately commandeering Ginger's cocktail for a picture.  Codependent dysfunction at its finest.

As we wait for our food, Vodka asks, "How's your life?" which Ginger answers nonchalantly with "Well, right now I'm shopping for an outfit to die in." Expecting Ginger to pull a black funeral veil out of her shopping bag, Vodka instead sees her whip out a pair of culottes.
Cue the Funeral March
"I assume those are for El Salvador," Vodka says, referring to Ginger's vacation to a locale from which she fears she might never return.

In an effort to get in as much solid eating as possible before Ginger leaves this city and maybe this planet, we dive into the glazed eel. Two spoons rest atop thin cucumber slices, each filled to the brim with slices of eel, pickled beansprouts, and a miniature quail egg.
Trust Us - We Had the "What the -- ?" Reaction, Too
Devouring them in one bite, they are, as our wannabe best friend Claire Robinson had predicted, delicious in their oddness.
Cucumber Buried Alive
Crunchy and smooth, plus overtly salty, Vodka could consume another dozen if asked, as her ideal food lately tastes of a salt lick.  In fact, the glazed eels are swallowed so quickly that we feel like we almost need another round just to figure out what we tasted.
Or We Just Need Taste Buds That Taste Flavors Other than Salt
Displaying self-control, we instead turn to the watermelon, feta, and basil salad, which is refreshing in its simplicity (though let's be real: nothing featuring feta cheese can really be bad, can it?).
It's Like Jenga
We next try the venison sliders, which are tasty if not quite greasy enough (the venison makes for a more meatball-like patty).
Deer on a Stick
They come with tiny onion rings, which, upon tasting the first one, Ginger calls out, "Can we just have a bowl of these?"  The waiter seems to find this funny, though truth be told, Ginger is not really joking.
So Just to Clarify - We CAN'T Get a Bowl?
Finally, we have our platter of charcuterie, which includes the non-$6 special ham.
So Much for Meatless Mondays
"Something smells like truffle," Vodka sniffs, trying to find the source.

"Aww, that was like a foodie turning point for us," Ginger surmises, and we congratulate ourselves on our ability to recognize a high-profile culinary scent.
So Now, We've Mastered Salt and Truffle
Tasting the four samples of meaty delights, plus the platter of accompanying sourdough, we find them all to be fine, if not particularly memorable.  We are not really one for our meats being pureed, which cuts down on our enjoyment of at least two of the samples, and the ham special and duck sausage, while palatable, are not lapped up.
Knoblewurst This Is Not
We make our exit from The Monday Room, Ginger confiscating half of the individually wrapped bars of soap from the bathroom for use in El Salvador and praying that our Monday Room dinner was not her literal Last Supper.

The Monday Room's Glazed Eel: 4 stars

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Motorino Chronicles, or How Vodka Is a Moron

Colatura di Alici Pizza -- Motorino

Motorino was not on our initial list for Best Thing I Ever Ate eating.  When Rachael Ray talked about it on the show's SLICED episode, she spoke of the Motorino in Brooklyn, a place we try never to go.  Upon further inspection, however, Vodka discovered that there is also a Motorino in Manhattan: a Motorino that Ginger had unknowingly already patronized.  She had also, by chance, eaten Rachael Ray's choice pizza, the colatura di alici, which Motorino serves as a special during the summer. 
We're Still Trying to Figure Out How to Pronounce "Colatura di Alici"
Incidentally, Ginger's foray to Motorino included a confrontational staff member who scolded Ginger and her three-person party for sitting (at the hostess's insistence) before their fourth member had arrived.  After berating both Ginger and the accommodating hostess, said waiter allowed Ginger's party to remain seated, seemingly only so he could give them the cold shoulder throughout their meal. 

Despite all of this hullabaloo, Ginger proclaimed the colatura di alici pizza a 5-star masterpiece, the perfect refreshing summery pizza.  Featuring a thin crust loaded with anchovies, cherry tomatoes, red onion, parsley, black olives, and fresh mozzarella, it overcomes the waiter's crankypants nature.  Based on Ginger's glowing recommendation of the food, if not the waitstaff, Vodka is eager to get her own fists on the pizza as soon as possible.

However, because Vodka is a moron, her efforts to taste a colatura di alici pizza went a bit awry.
Clearly, Motorino Has Cursed Us
Vodka decides to walk to Motorino while carrying her nudge of a dog in a bag.  This proves to be her first mistake, as not only is Motorino about as far from Vodka's apartment as one can get on the isle of Manhattan, but it's also the summer, and heat causes Vodka to turn into the Wicked Witch of the West Side.

Also, there's the whole business of the dog, who is not actually allowed in culinary institutions.  And since Vodka arrives at Motorino a half hour after their opening, the restaurant is completely empty, and a canine snout (albeit a small one) sniffing out of a tote bag could prove to be conspicuous.

For this reason, Vodka gets her pizza to-go.  Unfortunately, the efforts she has made walking to the other end of the earth in the summer sun have almost killed her and her little dog, too, and the prospect of hauling a bulky pizza box back to the subway seems like the least appealing idea ever.

And this is how Vodka managed to spend $40 in order to eat a slice of pizza.
Perhaps She Could Gain Employment as a Pizza Delivery Girl
Even without Vodka's taxi fare, the colatura di alici pizza itself costs $18, which is on the high end of the spectrum for a pizza with four slices.  Picking up her order, Vodka is at first confused by how light her pizza box feels, but not perplexed enough to open the thing until she gets home.

When she does, she finds an empty circle of cooked dough.
This is a Test of the Emergency Pizza Network... What Would YOU Do in This Situation?
Always one to jump to a complaint, Vodka is just about to get Motorino on the phone and demand a refund for their ineptitude when she decides to open the accompanying paper bag.  Inside, she finds a plastic container filled with the pizza toppings.  Apparently, this is a do-it-yourself pizza affair.
And Thanks to Bethenny Frankel, Vodka Now Knows How to Use Her Kitchen
Spreading the toppings onto the crust, Vodka still can't figure out how she's supposed to cook the thing, so she asks the only logical person: Ginger.

"I guess you must have to put it in the oven," Ginger surmises, seemingly unable to recall if the pizza is supposed to be eaten hot or cold.
Or How To, You Know, COOK A PIZZA
Still perplexed, Vodka calls Motorino and inquires.  "I just picked up a colatura di alici pizza from you, but how do I heat it?" she asks.

"How do you eat it?!"  The hostess is even more confused than Vodka.

"Well, that too.  But don't I have to cook it?"  You would think this thing would have come with directions.

"Oh no, you eat it raw.  It's like salad on top of pizza," the hostess informs her, so Vodka hangs up and takes a bite.

And pieces of tomato and mozzarella projectile across the room.

Let's just say the crust is a little tough.
Vodka Does Not Have a Future in Pizza Decorating
Trying again, Vodka manages to take a bite with the toppings intact, and she waits for the burst of glory that Ginger had guaranteed.  The toppings are indeed very fresh: the tomatoes are juicy, the olives tart, and the anchovies salty.  The mozzarella is texturally perfect, cut into vividly white cubes, and all of the toppings are coated by a very light hint of anchovy sauce.  The crust, however, is another story.
For One Thing, It Seems to be Missing Pieces
There is a lot of crust, as the provided toppings only cover the inner circumference of the pie, leaving about two inches to spare on the border.  According to pictures of other Motorino pies, this is their normal proportion, but the crust, in Vodka's mind, is not tasty enough to warrant this much attention.
Spread Yourselves Out, Toppings
In fact, the crust is so chewy that it almost ruins the pizza experience by being a slingshot against the toppings, and by the second slice, Vodka is eating the toppings off of the crust itself.
Should've Just Left This Bowl As-Is
The dough looks like it should be light and airy, but it is instead crispy and stiff.  It is naan-like in looks but baguette-like in bite, and while people like Ginger obviously adore this style, it is not Vodka's thing.

Ginger maintains that Vodka's Motorino's pizza must have suffered from its crosstown journey and swears that it is still one of the best things she has ever eaten, but Vodka refuses to give it any more than 3 stars.  As a compromise, we have settled on a 4-star rating.  If our experiences teach you anything, it should be to dine in at Motorino, assuming Ginger's gem of a waiter has since sought other employment.
Where's MY Slice?
Motorino's Colatura di Alici Pizza: 4 stars