Tuscany49, New York.

New York December 2022

First night in the big city we had chosen this little spot close to our hotel and the hotel staff recommended it as well. It has the ambience of a real Italian dive that has been around forever, and its authenticity is probably its strong point.

Walking in at 6 PM without a reservation it’s crowded and we are offered a seat at the bar, advised to reserve. After chatting with the anxious charming bar lady and finally getting a wine list the front-end man who told us we needed a reservation now said we had a table and sat us at a nice little one along the wall, real if synthetic white tablecloth and napkins amid substantial vocal noise but no loud music.

The staff is serious and middle-aged, moving fast to turn the tables over once people have left but although definitely businesslike observing European cadence in service. We chose a simple Chianti Classico for US$66 and were directed to order everything all at once rather than our usual pattern of starting out slow.

Caesar salad was simple, unassuming, and genuine. Mussels in a tomato sauce with garlic were delicious with their bread and we gobbled them up along with the wine which we certainly wanted after a day that started in the wee small hours in Richmond. Our pasta split between us and was lamb based… I’m looking for the right word here to convey its simplicity without damning it with faint praise. Just satisfying will probably do.

There is nothing affected about this little neighbourhood Italian bistro. In New York style everybody moves fast and gets the business done, but there’s never a hint of affectation or unreasonable expectation. These waiters are in their 40s and 50s and know how to move things along as you would expect it to be done in a busy street front in Genoa. Noisy, but nothing but enthusiastic conversation of young and older people enjoying dinner.

C$225 after the tip.

I’m sure there are 200 places like this in New York but this one would deserve another visit if we are ever in the Lexington and E 50th neighbourhood. Food 8.4. Service – nothing but straightahead business but still honest and professional – 8.9, ambience 9.5, value hard to gauge in this big expensive city blasted with inflation: 7.8 I think.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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