I wanted to love Follonico SO bad. A creative but reliable Tuscan restaurant with pleasant atmo in a convenient neighborhood, where you can always get a table, AND, furthermore, which is one of only two Italian restaurants in Manhattan where Ruth Reichl would happily re-dump her money.
Though my less-snobby friends thought it fine, I thought it sucked. We had an enjoyable enough meal, and the servers were very nice (if nervously new), but we would have had an equally good time at, say, City Crab.
Two things sprung to mind throughout our meal: 1) my mom won't eat at Italian restaurants because she could cook it herself just as easily (she's neither italian nor a 'cook' but she's right), and 2) as with Chinese restaurants, most people don't really know great from good, but rather mistake a 'different' menu and upscale digs as somehow 'better' than the average spot.
Apps: crusted blue point oysters with a kind of horseradish cream and osetra caviar. Fine, but the osetra caviar was a near-invisible TWO eggs (they were priced as though there would be, like, more) and they were on a bed of oily deep-fried spinach. The same spinach supported the fritto misto, basically calamari fried in dirty oil, with a stray scallop and a sauce of jarred mayo with capers and anchovy paste. The soggy radicchio-arugula-endive salad had no endive, and we had to ask for the promised gorgonzola, which was two miniscule cubes, and the dressing was a painfully bracing cheap balsamic vinegar with little olive oil.
Entrees: Spaghetti alla carbonara was decent, slick without being pasty, but nothing special. The lamb mixed grill (2 chops, some loin, a sausage) was correctly medium-rare but cold. The crispy cod with cabbage was in a Prosecco cream sauce whose Prosecco was undetectable; the dish had promise but didn't come together at all.
Especially for the price, give me Da Silvano, Novita, or Ecco. Or, as implied above, I'll just cook myself, or go to some crappy red-tablecloth place with a colorful bartender for $10 spag-&-meatballs and jug wine.
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