Little Italy: Not Much Italy, Not Much flavor

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So why, you ask, would Cornichon want to visit Manhattan's Little Italy? Certainly not for the food, which is standard "export Italian" at best, substandard tourist glop at worst. Nor for the architecture, which is Lower East Side tenement enhanced by 21st century graffiti. A block away from the teeming markets of Chinatown, Little Italy seems like an urban planner's afterthought rather than a quaint, if dingy, holdover from a simpler time.

Two lanes of parking, a single lane for moving vehicles along narrow Mulberry Street. No pushcart peddlars, obviously, only restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops Very few identifiable local residents from the four-story buildings lining the narrow street. Instead, you go for the show, for the families from Omaha, guidebooks in hand; for the over-the-top barkers outside every establishment. "Come back and look for me, da guy wid da long nose," says one. "Best food on the street," they all say. "Homemade pasta." (Homemade by Chef Boiardi, maybe.) Almost nobody in Little taly makes a big deal over their pizza these days; pizza's been coöpted by the quick-serve and home-delivery people. (And don't tell me you can "make your own pizza at home." Not without an 800-degree, wood-burning oven, you can't. What you're making is soggy toast.)

Back to the original question: if you're such a spoilsport, what was Cornichon doing in Little Italy, aside from feeling obnoxoiusly smug? Meeting with family, we'll have you know, to celebrate success in the halls of academe and the thickets of romance. So it mattered little in which joint we sat, mattered not a whit that the supposedly Italian waiter pronounced it "broo-shetta" instead of "bruce-ketta," mattered not that the caprese's mozzarella was made of plastic or that the carbonara was far too creamy. (The wretched tiramisu, on the other hand, was unforgiveable.) To reveal that the restaurant's initials were CB does no one any favors; it could have been any of a dozen. Caprese, Carbonara, Tiramisu: Three Strikes & You're Out!

Side note: "Geek to Guido," a reality series spoof, was filmed at Mulberry Street's La Mela. YouTube here

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on November 1, 2009 11:18 AM.

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