My friend Pete sent me an email this morning. He asked me what the following restaurants had in common after seeing them listed in another local publication:
Well, according to Pete’s info, this other mag said they all were listed in Zagat's America's 1,000 Top Italian Restaurants.
This crap constantly amazes me. Who are the Zagat people relying on for that list? Diners? Are they culled from supposed experts’ lists? What human being in their right mind could possibly think that La Grolla, Luci Ancora, Ristorante Luci, Prima, or Zelo are among the best 1,000 Italian restaurants in the USA? This is not because they couldn’t be, but how do you compare them with other potential Italian eateries outside of our city? Who is expert enough to say? Now, what I can tell you is I Nonni is a better Italian restaurant than La Grolla, Luci Ancora, Ristorante Luci, Prima, or Zelo—and Broder’s is as well. Zelo is not even an Italian restaurant!
My favorite Italian restaurant, simply for the quality of food, is D’Amico Cucina. I adore the simple and honest food at I Nonni; my only wish is that they hire competent staff who aren’t seemingly working nights their senior year in high school, and the room needs a major makeover (it has always reminded me of the Parade of Homes), but the food rocks, and the wine list is second to none.
Am I alone in thinking that more so than almost any other category of ethnic dining, we have a dearth of ‘quality’ Italian eateries in this town? Cucina, Broders, Punch, Campiello, I Nonni, and a few others offer food that is respectably reminiscent of true Italian cuisine. But every time I travel, I am reminded that despite so many opinions to the contrary, there are mostly bad Italo-American restaurants in this town. Simple, seasonal food made with impeccably sourced ingredients is the hallmarks of Italian cuisine. What doesn’t fall into that category would be some of the wonderfully complex, fully flavored peasant dishes that haunt any food fan’s dreams if they have ever traveled through Italy. Am I off base here?
For those who are interested, the new mightily expanded season of Bizarre Foods begins on September 9.
September 9: Phuket
September 16: Sicily
September 23: Goa
September 30: Samoa
October 7: Paris
October 14: Los Angeles
October 21: Halloween Special
October 28: Hawaii
November 4: No new programming, I will be out voting that day.
November 11: Ethiopia
November 18: Maine
November 25: Holiday
December 9: Uganda