Can a chain pizzeria convincingly transform into a bistro? I’ll admit the novelty of eating lamb schnitzel (I’m hell bent on this pseudo-Teutonic trend taking off) in a former Pizzeria Uno was The Smith’s main attraction for me. It did feel a little strange. Eons ago, I actually dined at the Pizzeria Uno, but I can’t remember a thing about it. Thankfully, I’ve been documenting this crap for eons.
I’m fairly certain that the room was less airy before, it must be all the new sparkling white subway tile. Or maybe it just seemed so bright and open because the room was nearly empty at 6:30pm. During the course of our meal tables began filling up with two distinct groups: college kids and over 45s, both likely to live within walking distance. Pesky millennials and boomers. Strange, because a lot of the surveys I find at work compare the attitudes of those two demographics exclusively, like that unpleasant Gen X has ceased to exist. Apparently, the 30-45s’ opinions don’t matter and they don’t early-bird dine at The Smith on a Wednesday.
The menu reflects this schism, too. Cheaper bar food (wings and burgers) and simple but pricier dishes (skate with brown butter and short ribs) play both ends of the spectrum. I suppose hot potato chips with gorgonzola fondue are kind of a high fat bridge. Every table, including ours, ordered these freshly fried potatoes drizzled with a mild blue cheese sauce. They do get soggy quickly, and the portion is indecent for two but after a couple beers it seems sensible.
So yes, I had to try the schnitzel even though I’m not fanatical about breaded pan-fried cutlets. You can never taste the meat, just the crust, and mashed potatoes only add to the starch. In a way, lamb is kind of fitting for this preparation since the flavor is distinct enough to not get completely buried by crumbs.
James insisted I was picking a fight by bringing up a survey about 86% of Americans bringing someone they’d been dating for less than a year home for the holidays (again with the surveys—I never considered myself one of those work/life imbalanced people, but I’m starting to wonder) so he wouldn’t let me take a picture of his strip steak with peppercorn sauce. Not only do I spout useless statistics at dinner, I hold up the meal with my camera, too—no wonder no one wants to celebrate Christmas with me. I did snap a photo anyway.
That would’ve been it for me, but James was into the dessert menu. Normally, I would’ve been too because it’s all fluffy sundaes with cake but I was all schnitzel’d out. Everything we’d eaten felt overwhelmingly heavy, and he probably ordered the richest dessert, too. I can’t recall its the cutesy name, but it was constructed from chocolate cake, peanut butter ice cream, chocolate syrup, chunks of peanut nougat candy and whipped cream. It almost killed me, but was worth it for future reference. Do you know how hard it is to find an ice cream sundae at midnight?
The nicest touch might’ve been free sparkling water. We were brought a whole second bottle unprompted, even after we were 95% done with our food. Hmm, it doesn’t bode well when water is the most impressive part of a meal. But if I lived nearby and was under 30 or over 45, I might return.
The Smith * 55 Third Ave., New York, NY