Since I do not have a five-picture deal with Disney, we of course had no reservation. But my girlfriend and I showed up, per my ingenious plan, at 6 PM on the dot on Saturday and managed to snag the last two seats at the bar (the booze bar, not the mozz bar, sadly... but we were happy to get anything -- and let me tell you, by 7:30 there were about 40-50 people hovering around who would have sold their mothers for our seats).
We were attended to by a rotating cast of bartenders, all of whom were incredibly friendly and gave us impeccable service. As crazily busy as the place got, they never lost their cool and never ignored us.
Shortly after being seated, we were presented with a complimentary amuse bouche of mozzarella rolled around pesto and sundried tomato -- kind of like cheese sushi, my gf pointed out. Tasty.
After ordering a glass of wine each (their 250 ml pours with an extra mini-carafe are a nice touch in my book) we got our appetizers: caprese for me, gem lettuce salad with hazelnuts and gorgonzola for her. I hyperbolize not: best caprese of my 29-year life. If Nancy Silverton needs a kidney, I'm first in line. I wanted to drink the leftover olive oil.
Our entrees were definitely on the simple side. I forget their misleadingly exotic names, but mine was essentially spaghetti with tomato sauce and garlic breadcrumbs, and my girlfriend's was spaghetti with browned butter and black pepper. On the plus side, they were both very good, if not mind-blowing. Mario Batali doesn't get a kidney but I'd bring him a DVD or two while he was awaiting a transplant.
If you are us, you do not pass up dessert in a place like this, and we were indeed us so we happily dove in. I had the bittersweet chocolate cake (seemed flourless though it didn't say that) with assorted chocolate-dipped candies; my girlfriend had an almond cornette with gelato. Darkest chocolate dessert I've ever had; it could easily have come straight from the counter at Vosges.
After all this, one of the bartenders asked us if we wanted anything else, and upon seeing our looks of no-we're-too-full protest, he told us he had "just the thing" and poured us two sherry glasses of Amaro, which he said would help settle our stomachs. On the house, of course. That's the kind of little touch that can push a great dinner over the edge into the territory of the sublime, which it definitely did for us. The two little date-nut candies we got to nibble on with the check were also a nice coda.
Next time: Pizzeria or bust!