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from the ridiculous to the sublime--Cent'Anni and Fiamma Osteria


Restaurants & Bars 8

from the ridiculous to the sublime--Cent'Anni and Fiamma Osteria

Jared | May 29, 2002 12:30 AM

So...having read a recent positive thread on Cent'Anni (Carmine St.)(link below), we decided to give it a shot, having lived in the neighborhood for seven years without ever stopping in. Turns out we had good reason to pass it by... Let me say to preface that it was Tuesday after Memorial Day, and the waiter admitted that the boss was on vacation and had left him in charge. That said, I'll just stick to the facts, with as little commentary as possible.

Chowhounders had recommended a roasted red pepper appetizer. The one we ordered came with a nice portion of plump, tasty red peppers topped with anchovies. Actually, a decent start. A very drinkable Algerian wine ($18/bottle!) also had us in a good mood.

My companion ordered the papardelle with rabbit, recommended by a chowhounder, and I ordered the steak, listed on the menu as a 20 oz. angus steak, priced at $28 (well more than anything else on the menu) on the strength of a glowing review comparing Cent'Anni's steak to Peter Luger's (though now that I look again I see that what was recommended was porterhouse for two--not on the menu tonight). Nonetheless, I asked the waiter whether the steak was a T-bone and was told it was. The waiter arrived a few minutes later with a huge slab of raw meat on a plate that he quickly flashed before me, asking for approval. While it wasn't a T-bone, it looked like a very thick strip steak--good enough--and so I gave him an okay. But when our entrees arrived, my steak , which I ordered rare, was at best medium, even medium well. Somehow, the 2-inch steak I was shown had shrunk to an inch or less thick, and was now covered with a tomato-ish sauce (not, as on the menu, simply sauteed shallots). But it was less the sauce than the fact that it was overcooked that caused me to send it back. The waiter, to his credit, immediately took it back and put in an order for another (since the restaurant was empty, we could hear him communicating with the cooks, insisting that this time they make it rare).

My companion's papardelle with rabbit was, well, one of the stranger Italian presentations we've seen. The papardelle itself was actually excellent--toothy, definitely homemade. It was topped with four or five large pieces of very dry rabbit (with bone!), and a very salty tomato sauce (we actually like salty food, but this was excessive). And next to the pasta and rabbit, on the same plate, were a few roasted potatoes and a serving of string beans. Hmmm...

20 minutes later, with both of us munching on the papardelle, the steak still hadn't arrived. When I asked the waiter what was happening, he went back into the kitchen, and I could overhear him telling the cooks, again, that I wanted it rare. Turns out they had overcooked a second steak. At this point, enough was enough, and I told him to cancel the order. Which, without any fuss, he did.

Although a chowhound post had recommended Cent'Anni's desserts, we decided to skip straight to the check. As we were settling up, we saw a cute mouse meander across the dining room.

So, to console ourselves, we decided, on the way home, to stop in at the new and fabulously reviewed Fiamma Osteria (Spring b/t Sullivan and 6th ave.) for dessert. We split a hazelnut chocolate torte at the upstairs bar, and it left us speechless. Can't wait to have a full dinner there.


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