Yet another place treats Restaurant Week diners as second-class citizens. This was the first season in some years I've experimented with Restaurant Week, and it might be the last, as the disappointments and frustrations with restaurants that seriously cut corners and create a completely unrepresentative menu far outnumber the satisfactory experiences.
I'm really pissed at i Trulli. I've enjoyed sampling wines and eating cured meats, appetizers and pastas at this Pugliese restaurant's next-door enoteca, but I'd never dined in the main room. I saw Restaurant Week as an opportunity and was gravely disappointed. I Trulli's approach was to offer a decidedly second-class selection for the prix-fixe. In the appetizer department they really missed the boat. I have no idea why they didn't offer one of their house specialties, the typically Apulian panzerotti (small, fried calzones stuffed with mozzarella and tomato). The appetizer I ordered was a charred lamb salad with cucumbers, black olives and fried chick peas. It was good, and while it might be a preparation from Puglia it was much more Middle Eastern than Italian in taste. The main course was a disaster. First of all, one of the selections was a fish of the day over a tomato-bread salad. I asked what the fish was and was told it was cod. I hate cod. Is there a more tasteless fish with a less appealing texture? But cod was the fish of the day in steerage only; the first-class passengers (i.e. the a la carte diners)were offered branzino, the delicious Mediterranean sea bass, that night. Another entree was skirt steak over a faro salad. Now I have nothing against skirt steak, but it's not what you serve your special guests (as I was walking down Park Avenue toward the subway I noticed that Barbounia, the newish Mediterranean restaurant in the old Patria space, also had skirt steak on the R.W. menu). The dish I ended up ordering was a cut below mediocre. It was cavatelli, the typical Pugliese pasta dumpling, with a Sicialian pesto (a tomato-almond sauce) and "sauteed shrimp." The shrimp were tiny, dry and tasteless, more appropriate as fish bait than a dinner ingredient. They really should have offered their excellent cavatelli with broccoli rabe and almonds instead, which also would have made the menu more vegetarian-friendly. On a happier note, the torta di mandorle (almond cake with balsamic strawberries and strawberry sorbet) I had for dessert was wonderful. Despite the sweet dessert the dinner left a sour taste in my mouth, and to the owners of i Trulli I say screw you and your codfish and fishbait shrimp.