“Or maybe she only eats fish,” he continues, clearly quite pleased with himself. “I don’t take her to Le Bernardin. Too intimidating. Or Esca. I love Esca. But the crudo and pastas she never heard of might make her uncomfortable. I take her to Aquagrill. It’s still very good, lively, full of people and the menu is familiar. She’s going to be comfortable, easy, open.
“The Modern is very sexy too,” he goes on, watching me take notes. “I should write an article about this but I would make too many enemies.” He sighs. I’ve watched Francesco in two long affairs with seriously smart and accomplished women being his outrageously sexist self wondering why they put up with it. So it’s not that he’s only into the one-night stand, or mindless bimbos. But when he’s dating, it seems, the after-dinner digestif is sex. “Yes, the Modern. A certain kind of girl will be very impressed. She likes art. It’s expensive. She could never go there on her own. It looks out at the Sculpture Garden. You just know she is ready.
“Jean Georges at lunch could not be more sexy. She knows she looks good in that light. That food. The surprising combinations. The incredible tastes. So sensuous. Too much wine. She is transported By three o’clock she doesn’t even remember she is in New York.
“I have given much thought to this question of romantic restaurants. In each case you have to study the girl and find the right restaurant for her. One If by Land, Two If By Sea. Forget it. A joke. The Terrace. Never. Never. The minute you walk in she knows what you have in mind. You might as well write her a note ‘Tonight I expect to do it.’ It’s too obvious.”