Wednesday, February 4, 2009

La Verde, Otemachi

Today, rather than continue the addled and uninformative style we adopted yesterday, the Editorial Team feels it's only proper to address a more serious subject - gnocchi. And more generally, the paucity of good Italian food in the places we've been frequenting for lunch.

Admittedly, one shouldn't expect too much from 'red tablecloth' Italian (not red and white checks in this case, but solid red plasticized covers). One should certainly expect large portions, and La Verde delivers that (ouch, does it. The lunch pizzas would be dinner-sized at most places, and even the regular pastas are pretty mammoth.). One should also expect convivial atmosphere, and that was pretty good too! The table of four next to us was sharing all four of the dishes they ordered, which was a great idea and very cute too. I was jealous.

Actually, what shouldn't one expect? The next thing I was about to say is that one expects hearty flavors with plenty of tomato and fat (or whatever you feel appropriate for hearty Italian cooking). La Verde was pretty lame on this front. I had a pumpkin gnocchi (have to draw some minor link to the theme initially proposed...) that was pretty bland except for the bright-yellow cheese sauce. Wolf had a shrimp and bacon pizza that was really, really weak (but big). Ponkan had a massive plate of tarako cream spaghetti that was...I won't bore you any more.

The funny thing here is the line outside. We got there at 11:40 and snagged one of the last tables. I'd estimate that the place seats 100 (and I'd be wrong because Tabelog says 120), and by 12 there were about 20 people outside. It's sick, and it's wrong. They also require you to pay the check together at lunch time - I know this is normal in most countries, but in Japan we feel our god-given rights include paying the check separately and seeing menu prices that include tax and tip. Or maybe that's just me, the curmudgeonly diner in the corner.

Geez, this is a huge chain under the Officina group. That explains a bit.

One final note: Yankees' Stadium was opened on Opening Day of the 1923 season, after the Yankees purchased the land from the estate of William Waldorf Astor and mandated a construction period of less than one year (really amazing for 1923). Interestingly, the need for the stadium was created in part by Babe Ruth. Previously the Yankees were sharing the Polo Grounds with the Giants, who owned the field, but when Yankee attendance outstripped Giants' attendance, the Giants ordered the Yankees to vacate. Even more interestingly, one of the Yankees' owners at the time was named Tillinghast l'Hommedieu Huston.

Ahhhh, it'll be opening day before we know it!

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