One of the most consistently important and interesting parts of my work as someone who avidly loves good food as much as I love writing about it is keeping track of what’s up in the world’s other major food cities. This is why I always look forward to a trip to New York, a city where I lived for nine years and a place I deeply love and enjoy. Having been here a week, however, I have to say that a scattershot sampling of various new and old New York restaurants has made me profoundly grateful to live in Paris. Why? For $35 or so, you still eat vastly better in Paris than you do in New York.
My first meal in Manhattan was with Steven, a dear book-editor friend, at Grano on Greenwich Avenue. Though the Latin American waiter pretending to be Italian was a nice guy, the only memorable aspect of this meal were Steven’s carciofi alla Romana, or Roman style artichokes. Leaving to one side the fact that artichokes are completely out of season and that alla Romana in Rome means griddled between two heavy plaques of metal, this was a tasty little saute. My mozzarella with red peppers and cherry tomatoes came as a mingy serving, and my “macaroni” with tiny meatballs and cherry tomatoes was desperately disappointing for the fact that the pasta had so obviously been par-boiled or otherwise pre-cooked. With a single cheap bottle of mediocre Italian red wine, we both left the table here with a $60 hole in our pockets, which is absurd.