Monday, May 20, 2013

It Looks Like Multiple Characters from The Godfather Died Here

Caesar Salad -- Pietro's

"It's a good thing I made a reservation," Vodka mumbles to Ginger as she arrives at our table.  Looking around, Ginger finds the dining room of Pietro's nearly empty, even at our relatively-normal eating time on a Saturday night.  In the place of actual customers, we find decor that is so heavily old-fashioned that we are convinced half of The Godfather must have been shot here.
Wine Bottles from the Prohibition Era
Don't Peer at the Figure Behind the Curtain
Despite its rather creepy ambiance, we are heartened by the fact that within moments of sitting down, we are handed both a wine list and a bread plate -- clearly, the lack of diners has given the Pietro's staff time to get its priorities in order.
So Was it 1932?...
...Or 1984?! Very Shady, Pietro's
We order a bottle of pinot noir to split (as Ginger is still claiming to abide by the Mediterranean diet) and vow that upon our deaths, we will have bar stools named after us, Pietro's table plaque-style.
Here Sat Vodka and Ginger. They Ate A Lot and Also Complained
"Before you arrived, the wine guy told me his life story," Vodka tells Ginger, glazing over the fact that the "wine guy" is actually our waiter, but has been given the title of "wine guy" since it is his most important function.
"Wine Guy" Will Soon Become Known as "Bread Boy"
Ginger hardly inquires about said story, as we are each too wrapped up in consuming bread ("It's nice that we each have our own loaf").  We find the bread deceivingly good based on its looks, and Ginger correctly asserts that it is due to the extremely salty butter.
"Better Give Them Each Their Own Portion. They Look Like They Enjoy Carbs"
This inherent saltiness feels like a good omen, since we are here to taste Alex Guarnaschelli's chosen Best Thing I Ever Ate SALTY GOODNESS dish, the Caesar salad.  Displaying evidence that we will never stop being overeaters, we quickly shoot down our own idea of ordering one salad to split, since we both love a Caesar salad and are not in the mood to share.
Double the Goodness, Double the Fat, err, Fun
Overflowing portions of the salad soon arrive before us (though we thought they were going to be prepared tableside... was that only false theatrical magestry for Best Thing I Ever Ate purposes?).  The salad, which we top with fresh pepper and even more parmesan cheese, is certainly good: the lettuce is crisp, the cheese is salty, and again, we have a lot of it to eat.  But it's just not that... amazing.
Standard Caesar Fare
In fact, it's a tad greasy for our tastes, as if it had been laden down with olive oil.  We typically prefer Caesar dressings of the creamy variety, and this one is somehow more spicy than salty.
Has Pietro's Hidden Red Pepper Flakes on Us?!
Naturally, we lick our plates clean, but this is not necessarily a sign that we were blown away -- just a sign that we like to get our money's worth.
Also, We Requested Extra Cheese. Naturally
For our entrees, Ginger chooses the linguini with clams, and Vodka the shells a la Nat.  Ginger's bowl is tasty enough, if a tad too filled with clams and thus a bit much on the "fishy" side.
"I'll Have the Linguini with Clams. Hold the Clams"
Please Note the Decided Greasiness of the Plate
The shells a la Nat, which also seem to be a house specialty, are fairly delicious -- like a less creamy version of shells in a vodka sauce.  However, both of these plates are also decidedly greasy and would be markedly improved with a splash of heavy cream and even more salt (indeed, when Ginger begins sprinkling her own plate with the salt shaker, she confesses to Vodka, "I'm turning into you").
Someone Buy Us a Salt Mine, Will You?
Who Is Nat and How Did He Become an Expert in Shells?
When we deny ordering dessert, we are presented with a plate of four delectable homemade biscotti, which prove to be the most successful item of the whole night.  Softer and chewier than typical biscotti, Vodka's attempts to sweet talk the wine guy about them (merely a ploy to gain more free dessert), fails miserably, and we tip our wine glasses back for a final swig.
"So What You're Saying Is... You're NOT Going To Give Us a To-Go Bag of These? 3 Stars for You"
Overall, Pietro's is providing a stronger meal than we would have anticipated from its boondock midtown Manhattan location (after all, it is wedged amongst a slew of car rental places), if one that is not quite good enough to warrant their exceedingly high prices.
As They Are Essentially the Hotel Restaurant of the Hampton Inn
As we head out, Vodka mocks our social lives, as Ginger had asked her only hours before if she was available for dinner with the caveat, "I assume you already have plans."

"Have we met?" Vodka asks.  "Why would you think I have plans?  I was going to cook pasta and drink wine."

"I meant that I'm sure you had A PLAN for the evening," Ginger clarifies.  "Not necessarily PLANS."
So Same Plan, Different Pasta
And with that, we manage to escape out of Pietro's ominous wood doors stroll uptown to Bloomingdales to engage in one of our favorite activities: drunk shopping.
We're Telling You -- The Godfather Had to Have Been Filmed Here
It is at this point that Pietro's love of grease turns into a real national emergency, as Ginger discovers that her doggie bag is dripping into a pile of paper mush.

"Excuse me, do you have a Little Brown Bag?" she asks a flummoxed salesgirl.

"Um, not one that would fit that container," the girl answers (clearly, she's not familiar with the MEDIUM brown bags?!).

"Then could you throw this out for me?" Ginger pretty much shoves the container into the shoe department trash can, all but assuring that customers will be gaining a bit of fish stench along with their Stuart Weitzman's.
Hey Pietro's -- BLOT YOUR FOOD
After that classy display (and -- naturally -- a shoe purchase each), we meander back to our own residences to engage in the only other post-Best Thing I Ever Ate hobby we enjoy more than drunk shopping: couch drinking, an activity for which we never need to make a reservation. 

Pietro's Caesar Salad: 3 stars

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