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Cafe DeVille

Word to the wise: Don't attempt a nice dinner/date when you're trying to
quit smoking. This mysterious bistro opened catty-corner from James' block
last spring. I say mysterious because it seemed to be open for ages, hosting
private parties with icky attendees and mobster-esque bouncers guarding the
door like hawks. It appeared more like an out-of-place private club than a
real local restaurant. Well, it eventually opened and by then I'd lost
interest. The place seems to be doing decent business with a late 20s to
early 30s crowd (me) who fancy themselves as cultured/trendy (not me). In a
nutshell: lots of blonde stringy hair and khakis, yes khakis. (Well with one
exception. The peculiar group sitting next to us had my mind reeling all
night. There were two scraggly gentlemen in at least their mid-40s with a
teenage boy and girl. They all seemed very un-Manhattan [not that I am
either] but in a dirt-road, middle American sort of way. You'd think
father/child at first, but fathers I know don't rub their 14 yr. old
daughters thighs and tongue them in restaurants [hey, that's what the
bedroom's for]. What was their deal, and why on earth did they choose Cafe
DeVille as a rendezvous?)

It was a random Friday night that James suggested checking the place
out. The reason I'd always shied away was the prices. They're not outrageous
or anything, entrees are in the teens to twenties range, but that's more
than I like to pay for a casual meal (I'm cheap, ok?). It's unspoken, but
when we go out on a weekend and eat at a place that's not in Chinatown or
doesn't serve nachos, James tends to pay. It's not a rule, and I'd like to
say I don't expect it, but to some degree I do. When we order appetizers,
drinks and mains over $12, I semi-expect the credit card to be whipped out
at the end of the evening. Call me old fashioned, but this is how our
relationship has evolved.

I liked the food well enough, my only complaint, well comment is that
it's all presented in this components on a plate fashion. I never know the
appropriate way to meld the flavors. Our appetizer consisted of asparagus, a
Basque Serrano-type ham, walnuts, and…oh jeez I'm already forgetting the
one or two other items, but that was OK as it was a starter and it's fine to
pick at. I had the duck confit and frisee salad, which was overwhelming in
its pieciness. Lettuce all over, a duck leg, a little cup created from
endive, more walnuts, dried cherries and an unidentifiable vegetable(?) that
was green, sort of almond-shaped and seemed like an olive, sort of tasted
like an olive, but had no pit, and instead was filled with tiny seeds. Not
like I'm a produce expert, but I was still baffled. All that cutting,
scooping and combining in order to get the optimum flavor combo on one
forkful can be tough.

So, after a substantial meal, a bottle of wine and some lack of nicotine
bickering, the bill comes and James tells me to put in half. To many that
would be acceptable, to me it was plain passive aggressive, especially since
he knows good and well my checking account is barely on the plus side. I
threw all the money in my wallet at him, about $35, certainly not enough to
cover my half and stormed off in a huff. What a bust. I feel no desire to
return to Cafe DeVille, despite its sharing a name with my favorite Poison
guitarist, C.C.

Cafe DeVille * 103 Third Ave., New York, NY

Pizzeria Uno

1/2  *The East Village Uno is no longer. I had no idea there were three other Manhattan locations. (11/07)

Number one, huh? Well, I don't know if I'd go that far. I've been curious about this seemingly suburban oddity on Third Ave. for some time now. Like who is it meant for? Homesick NYU students? Low-grade thrill seekers like myself? I guess it's not that far fetched, Dominos and Pizza Hut both seem to thrive in a city known for authentic pies. Why not throw a little Chicago deep dish into the mix.

Pizzeria Uno succeeds (with me) on two counts. One, the novelty factor. I'm not familiar with the chain, as it's not a West Coast thing. And I can't resist an uncharted sit-down franchise. Two, the disgusting nostalgia aspect. I don't know if it's the World Trade Center horror or what, but I've been craving all sorts of weird food I normally wouldn't. Thick crust pizza with sausage and green peppers, for one. I hate sausage and peppers, it's the kind of icky topping my mom would order when we were kids and I'd scornfully pick off. But I found myself eating an iceberg lettuce salad and combo pizza without even flinching. So, this is what the world's come to?

I felt sort of weird and conspicuous sitting in the window of the place, the same way I do when sitting outside at Dallas BBQ, like jeez, someone could see me. As if I'm better than cheesy, mass produced food. Later that night I saw our waitress at James's corner bar, Finnerty's and I semi-cringed. But then, what's more humiliating–to eat at Pizzeria Uno or to work there? Yeah, answer that.

PizzeriaUno * 55 Third Ave., New York, NY

Paul’s Palace

Palace may be a bit of a stretch. Joint, perhaps. I must've walked
past this nondescript place a million times and never even noticed. It's
just like that. I was told they had a good Philly cheesesteak, which is good
information to have.

Saturday night, it was the first weekend out since the World Trade
Center attack, and people were drinking more than usual. Talk turned to
cheesesteaks (not that inebriation and cheesesteaks necessarily go hand in
hand). James became convinced we needed one, unfortunately Paul's had just
closed (he called). He became utterly obsessed with the idea of driving to
Philadelphia to get a 24-hour original (see above review). I like whimsy and
spontaneity as much as the next person, but just wasn't in the mood that

The next day we were grocery shopping when I brought up Paul's. It
appeared that the previous night's mania had already slipped his mind. We
decided to have a go anyway. I opted for a big, messy, blue cheese burger. I
hate to be a party pooper, but I almost prefer flat, dry, fast food burgers.
Blasphemy, I know. Real restaurant burgers are always drippy and
unmanageable (I had to eat this one with a knife and fork. But then, I do
the same thing with pizza, which is a total NYC faux pas). I was just about
to start talking about how I'm not even a burger fan, it's not a craving I
have very often, but dammit, typing this is making me really hungry for one.

Of course James got the cheesesteak, however, it came with provolone.
People have this notion that cheese whiz is low brow so they change the
cheese. Fine, but it's not authentic, and just plain wrong. I think it was a
perfectly fine sandwich, but not a primo Philly specimen. The hunt

Paul'sPalace * 131 Second Ave., New York, NY


The garden, the garden, the garden–that's all I've ever heard about this
place. I'm not even a garden person (if there is such a thing), but I was
finally convinced. Perhaps a little too late, as it was the Tues. following
Labor Day, and while calendar-ly inaccurate, the end of summer to the rest
of the reactionary world. Bah, it's still warm out.

It was my second anniversary with a former stalkee. Convincing on object
of obsession to go out with you is no small feat in itself, but maintaining
the whole affair for 730 days (was there a leap year in there?) deserves a
celebration to be sure.

And there's where Mooza came into play. Gardens are romantic, no? I
didn't want a break the bank bash, nor did I desire a bland burrito in the
East Village. This was middle ground, an appropriate choice. We both had
black currant champagne cocktails, and shared a ceviche. There was also a
mussels dish with shrimp tempura as a starter. I opted for a seafood pasta
special, while James tried a lamb concoction with a cranberry sauce (nothing
like the jellied Thanksgiving variety). All was pleasing, though half-way
through the meal I realized we were the only ones left in the garden. It was
mildly disconcerting. I don't feel that 11pm on a weeknight is ungodly for
dining alfresco (though I've been getting tired earlier and earlier these
days. I just can't admit to the fact that I'm now 29. I don't care if my
bones ache and bags form under my eyes–I'm not going to bed before
midnight!). I can only attribute the sparse clientele to perceived change in
season. A little nip in the air isn't going to put a damper on my spirits,
no way. (9/4/01)

Mooza shuttered some time ago. I think it's One91 (so clever) now.

Mooza * 191 Orchard St., New York, NY