April 18, 2005 | Ask Gael
I thought it was Tuscan. Now it’s English?
Given chef-partner Todd English’s heritage, it’s now sophisticated (Todd) Calabrian (his grandparents) with a little Bronx (Mom), tossed in for feeding titan Jeffrey Chodorow’s third try on this corner, English is Italian. We’re eating cute. Let the waiter explain. Just say two courses for the table ($34 per person) or three ($39). Wait-crew in wing formation brings it on. Savory little balls of cod and arancini oozing mozzarella. Eat them hot. Crostini, inevitably. A platter of salumi with rhubarb mostarda, a sophistication beyond Calabria and the Bronx, too. Buffalo mozzarella ($15 extra) gets massaged tableside, then too rubberized (for me) in the sauté pan. My pal spies a big bowl of eggplant caponata passing by. “Why didn’t we get that?” she cries. “It’s not too late,” our server insists, apologizing. And then a swoop of mostly delicious pastas disarms. Al denté spaghettini with clams in tomato sauce is impressive, and I’m wild about macaroni-and-cheese-shells in a marvelous cheese melt under a garlicky crumb crust. Tonight’s entrées, orata, pleasant chicken cacciatore, and properly fatty brisket, are ignored as the four of us share the 28-ounce bistecca ($45 extra). Like the steaks of Italy, it’s tasty and really tough. But the parmigiana-sprinkled arugula salad alongside is exquisite. Some good grub here, but it’s more a feast for gluttons than gourmands. What will happen when I want to eat what I want to eat?
622 Third Avenue at 40th Street. 212 404 1700