Ive been a fan of this place for awhile in spite of the occasional negative posts that keep surfacing. There was a minor spate of them recently which made me curious to see if the place had indeed lost some of its edge in service and food quality. Last Friday my partner dropped by at around 8:00PM to check it out.
We got the usual friendly greeting at the door. (Never received anything less.) We expected to wait a bit at the bar but instead were shown immediately to a table. The service was more than fine they seemed to go out of their way to be friendly and efficient. For our starter we split the Cured Meat Tasting platter ($12), a nice selection of sweet and spicy sopressata and Italian cheeses. We both selected the cavatelli with hot sausage (also $12) as our main weve had it in the past and the memory is so good that we wind up having it again every time we go back. If the food has slipped youd never know it this remains an outstanding dish.
The wine prices are really attractive - we shared a pleasant bottle of Dolcetto for $25 and there were plenty of other choices between $20 - $40. I couldnt help but compare that to Beast which weve also visited recently. While I dont have the lists in front of me my memory was that Beasts list tilted heavily towards the pricey side. They must be catering to that swanky Vanderbilt Avenue crowd.
Although we were seated immediately I did hear another person complaining that they had been waiting for a table for awhile. They were a party of 6 and my assumption is that larger groups are more difficult to seat.
The place can get really busy and they dont take reservations. Neither does Al Di La but for some reason it seems to drive people crazy when Frankies does it. On a previous visit we arrived and were told there would be a 20 minute wait. We were hot, tired, and hungry and didnt feel like waiting so we moved on to another place. No big deal. Why set yourself up to be aggravated?
Another time we arrived as a group of 4 and again were told that there would be a 40 minute wait. We ordered wine at the bar and were pleasantly surprised when we were seated in about 20 minutes.
Id recommend that anybody sitting on the fence about this place should give it a try. Get there before 8 and walk in with the expectation that youll spend a bit of time at the bar. Its worth the wait.