Anyone who's been to Italy knows that special feeling you get when you walk into many restaurants in that country: that the proprieters wish to separate you from your money as fast, slickly, and thoroughly as possible. The owners of Trattoria Pesce Pasta (a stupid name to be sure) have recreated that experience here with their chain of four or five NYC restaurants.
The first thing the waiter asked - or more accurately demanded - was "sparkling or flat water?" I said I'll have regular water. He said "sparkling or flat". I clarified that I wanted tap water. He insisted "sparkling or flat". "No tap water?" "Sparkling or flat". Not in the mood for an argument, and willing to go along for the absurd ride, I relented. "Flat".
I started with minestrone which was hot and thick and colorful and chock ful of veggies and, by the way, completely devoid of flavor. This flavorlessness persisted despite the waiter having - without my consent - come over to grind pepper and spoon cheese into my bowl. Like I said, I was in this for the ride.
After laboring through the minestrone, next came penne with meatballs. And more unrequested grated cheese. The sauce was super-thick, the meatballs dense. The flavor - well, there was none. Honestly, the chef here must really hate italian food, or food in general, or life itself. Although the place has some nice atmosphere and a fetching Sinatra soundtrack, the cooking is truly dead.
And did I mention? My flat water cost me $7. And the whole absurd ride, including tax, tip and toll, set me back $38.