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A Chicago 'hound family's report on a weekend in Manhattan


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Restaurants & Bars 1

A Chicago 'hound family's report on a weekend in Manhattan

Mugs | Jun 9, 2005 05:29 PM

Thank you to those who suggested places to eat near Grand Central and Rockefeller Center before our May 20-23 visit. Here's what I remember:

Prince Deli, 43rd and 3rd: I liked the spicy $4.50 falafel. I was surprised it was served in a tightly wrapped large tortilla which was then thrown on the grill for a few char marks rather than in a pita.

Francisco's (or maybe Fernando's?) Pizza, W side of Columbus around 68th: I've never had a slice of pizza with the crust so consistent from tip to rim. Not too hard, not too soft. Generous with the broccoli topping, too.

GCT dining concourse: Thanks to Junior's, the panini place (Paninicota?), and Little Pie Company, this became our default place to eat when we were too tired to really go out. I had a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder at the counter of the Oyster Bar upstairs, and I sure did feel like Holden Caulfield on the lam.

Cibo, 41st and 2nd in the Daily News Building: We went at 6:00 p.m. for supper because we're Midwesterners and to take advantage of the prix fixe. Maybe one other table was filled. A fine enough room, a menu with more American dishes and fewer Italian than we expected, but delicious breads and a mound of ricotta with herbs made for a promising start. Then the apparent owner gathered a couple of managers and chefs behind a screen at a table near ours and held a staff meeting. We heard nearly every word the boss man said, and there went the magic of dining out. It was an unvarnished meeting about the bottom line. We heard how a push list in the kitchen had boosted sales of a pricey cut of meat and that a pasta dish on the menu was "a dog" which should be dropped. Guess who had ordered said dog dish? Fusili with red and yellow tomatoes, capers, olives, and yellowfin tuna. I was expecting an arrabiatta flavor, but the dish had no flavor of any kind. The tuna consisted of several thumb-sized pieces with afterthought written all over them. My wife's chicken tortellini was passable, my daughter's penne bolognese a little better, and the chocolate souffle, turnovers, and macadamia torte deserts were good. The best dish was my chopped salad.

Rachel's American Bistro, 608 9th b/t 43rd and 44th: One of you had advised me to eat on 9th Ave., and I saw lots of appealling places as I walked through the 40s and 50s. The family was in the mood for familiar food. Rachel's fit the bill. Cramped and busy but well run thanks to a hardworking hostess. Another good chopped salad. Entrees of chicken breast with apples and walnuts, black sea bass and (sheez, I can't remember my wife's entree, and it was our anniversary) all pleased. All came with a scoop of polenta and a scoop of a minced vegetable combo; both were good. Our most satisfying restaurant meal of the weekend.

We tried for a Saturday 8:00 p.m. reservation at Trattoria Trecolori but couldn't get one.

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