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#1 Rich

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:19 PM

A group of us went to Park Side last evening. For some of us it was the second time in about a month.

As usual the food was excellent for its type - Italian American. The red sauces were quite tasty and the penne lamb ragu appetizer was very good. I had sauteed soft shell crabs (3) and while good, you could tell the end of the season is near. Other dishes included scungilli and calamari, shrimp fra diavolo (people needed to add some red pepper flakes to bring up the spice level), chicken parmigiana, clams casino and stuffed artichokes.

As always the wine list is very, very reasonable and rivals Lamdmarc in that area. Everyone had a app, a main and some of us had espresso. We drank three bottles of wine and with a very generous tip, it came to $70 a person.

The service was very good and we made the waiter work with the wine - since the list doesn't print vintages, he kept checking and bringing bottles to the table that allowed us to make an appropriate selection. The drawback was the wait. Our reservation was 7:30pm, but a few us us didn't arrive until a few minutes after 8pm due to weather-related travel issues (me and my wife included). We didn't get to sit until 8:45pm as the restaurant was backed up with earlier parties also running late - and it was totally packed as usual.

All in all it delivered exactly was it's meant to - excellent Italian-American in a "pinky-ring" type atmosphere with outstanding value.

#2 omnivorette

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:28 PM

I was in the group that went a few weeks ago with Rich. I liked it just fine, but I can't say it was excellent. It was pretty good red sauce food. I didn't find it sophisticated or particularly interesting. I thought the place was kitschy and that's kind of fun, but I could have lived without the magician who came to the table and the scantily clothed girls wandering around hawking booze in the room. Yes it's not expensive but then again it shouldn't be, relative to the quality of the food.

Sorry Rich, that's my opinion.
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#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:28 PM

This is the first restaurant of this type that I've been to as an adult that really makes it. It's what you always hope one of these places will be. I'm happy to have finally gone.
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#4 omnivorette

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:32 PM

Sneak, have you been to:

Don pepe
Queen
Cono O"pescatore
piccolo venezia
Manducatis
etc

"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#5 Rich

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:38 PM

QUOTE(omnivorette @ Aug 15 2008, 11:28 AM) View Post
but I could have lived without the magician who came to the table and the scantily clothed girls wandering around hawking booze in the room.


I understand. But I will say that I've been going there for years and it was the first and only time that happened.

No magicians or scantily-clad women last night (except for some of the patrons). Even I wore an open collared shirt and vest - both opened to just above the waist to expose the necessary hair and gold chains. smile.gif


#6 Rich

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:44 PM

QUOTE(omnivorette @ Aug 15 2008, 11:32 AM) View Post
Sneak, have you been to:

Don pepe
Queen
Cono O"pescatore
piccolo venezia
Manducatis
etc

I don't know about SE, but I've been to all of them and I think Park Side is better - Queen is the closest. Piccolo's best days are far in the past, Don Pepe uses butter in the red gravy - and that's no-no for Southern Italians - also gives the sauce a very strange flavor. Cono is good and Manducatis is horrific and has been since 1987.

#7 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:46 PM

QUOTE(omnivorette @ Aug 15 2008, 03:32 PM) View Post
Sneak, have you been to:

Don pepe
Queen
Cono O"pescatore
piccolo venezia
Manducatis
etc


All of the above except Cono O'pescatore.

With the proviso that Queen is different now that the kids have taken over, and so is no longer an oldschool "red sauce" Italian, I think that Park Side is materially better than all the oldschool "red sauce" Italian places I've been to in New York.

In fact, they're precisely the places I was comparing it to.
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#8 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:48 PM

And I'll add, of course the food isn't "interesting". If it were "interesting", it wouldn't be old school "red sauce" Italian.
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#9 omnivorette

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:49 PM

I guess the truth is that we have slim pickins in NYC. parkside (my capital p is not working) is fine, but that's all, fine. Maybe it's better than some of the others, but that's not saying much. Wilf has discussed this extensively.

Yes I understand that red-sauce old school food isn't "interesting." But I found the sauces to be dull, no really good ingredients used, etc. Typical Italian-American red sauce food. Which, by the way, I like. I just don't see that parkside stands out from the crowd.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#10 Lex

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:50 PM

QUOTE(omnivorette @ Aug 15 2008, 11:28 AM) View Post
... but I could have lived without the magician who came to the table and the scantily clothed girls wandering around hawking booze in the room.

Damn. They never do that for me.
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#11 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:53 PM

QUOTE(omnivorette @ Aug 15 2008, 03:49 PM) View Post
I guess the truth is that we have slim pickins in NYC. parkside (my capital p is not working) is fine, but that's all, fine. Maybe it's better than some of the others, but that's not saying much. Wilf has discussed this extensively.

Yes I understand that red-sauce old school food isn't "interesting." But I found the sauces to be dull, no really good ingredients used, etc. Typical Italian-American red sauce food. Which, by the way, I like. I just don't see that parkside stands out from the crowd.


It may be that there's a limit as to how good this kind of food can be, and one's attachment to it has a substantial dollop of nostalgia.

I think Park Side stands out from the crowd mainly because it's good and the others are so bad-to-mediocre. (Again, I'm not including Queen in the group.)

Just be clear, I'm not saying I think Park Side is great the way Katz's is great. (And I don't think it's just ethnic identity talking here.)
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#12 Steve R.

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:54 PM

QUOTE(Rich @ Aug 15 2008, 11:44 AM) View Post
QUOTE(omnivorette @ Aug 15 2008, 11:32 AM) View Post
Sneak, have you been to:

Don pepe
Queen
Cono O"pescatore
piccolo venezia
Manducatis
etc

I don't know about SE, but I've been to all of them and I think Park Side is better - Queen is the closest. Piccolo's best days are far in the past, Don Pepe uses butter in the red gravy - and that's no-no for Southern Italians - also gives the sauce a very strange flavor. Cono is good and Manducatis is horrific and has been since 1987.


I need to try Cono, since I've never been. I cant stand Piccolo Venezia... all show and pretense, no substance. And I havent been to Don Pepe in years, since the times I went werent very good. I like Manducatis well enough in this genre but it's been hit or miss too much and it's too dependent on Ida being around and in a good mood. Queen is a different type of place.... I'm not sure how to describe the difference because there is an "old line red sauce" air about it, but it's more innovative (that's a good thing) to be in this same grouping. I'd go to Queen as much as Park Side but it's a different experience. The food at Park Side, for me, is exactly what you mean when you say "good red sauce Italian" with good prices (very good on the wines apparently). Actually, better last night than last month but both were fine for me. Yes, a destination place but only in the sense of getting something very rarely available any more, not for incredible quality.

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#13 omnivorette

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:56 PM

I understand what you're saying. I have a strong nostalgic attachment to this kind of food and this kind of place too. I liked parkside for all those reasons, I just didn't think the food stands out from the crowd.


"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#14 omnivorette

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:57 PM

Sounds like a Cono trip is in order one of these days. I forget which night, but they do something like 50% on the whole wine list once a week.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:58 PM

QUOTE(Steve R. @ Aug 15 2008, 03:54 PM) View Post
I need to try Cono, since I've never been. I cant stand Piccolo Venezia... all show and pretense, no substance. And I havent been to Don Pepe in years, since the times I went werent very good. I like Manducatis well enough in this genre but it's been hit or miss too much and it's too dependent on Ida being around and in a good mood. Queen is a different type of place.... I'm not sure how to describe the difference because there is an "old line red sauce" air about it, but it's more innovative (that's a good thing) to be in this same grouping. I'd go to Queen as much as Park Side but it's a different experience. The food at Park Side, for me, is exactly what you mean when you say "good red sauce Italian" with good prices (very good on the wines apparently). Actually, better last night than last month but both were fine for me. Yes, a destination place but only in the sense of getting something very rarely available any more, not for incredible quality.


This is all EXACTLY what I think.
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