Al di La: One Point for Brooklyn Braggadoccio
It is time for me to make public what everyone in my close circle of friends knows: if you ever need a dining partner for Al di La, an intrepid, obtuse companion willing to sign on for a 2-hour wait in the shivering cold (or alternately, more than willing to duck into a lezzie bar across the street), call me. I will drop the baby I was in the middle of delivering, or lob the volatile atom I was carefully tucking away into a nuclear safely vault, and come running to you, arms wide open, a tripe-seeking boner cramping my jeans and leading the way down 5th ave.
Frank’s become notorious for giving out 2-star ratings with the indiscriminate vigor of a suburban lawn-sprinkler. While strictly, my undertaking here is to stand behind the Count as he talks and make fart noises and stupid faces, I have to step out of bounds today and say, “Shit, bitch. Give ‘em all the stars your little heart desires. I love that place.” My excitement exceeds Frank's: his very earnest rapture this week is lexically restrained…or reserved, perhaps, for his fist-pumping, proletarian cry of outrage against $45 glasses of wine and other hidden costs.
"I mean, $18 extra on a $65 pre-opera prix-fixe just for DOMESTIC foie? It's time for barricades, people."
Frank begins, “Food lovers who live in Brooklyn, especially food lovers who moved there from Manhattan, love to say that they have better restaurants, ones that wed equally fine food to a humility often absent in the taller, shinier, haughtier borough across the water.”
No fair! No one will ever be as tall and shiny as Staten Island! (ZING)
When we Brooklynites gloat about our borough’s food, Frank is smiling in our faces and inwardly applying his Brooklynites’ Opinion Conversion Chart:
Brooklynite X Level of Boro Pride = Credibility X -1,000,000,000
“Sometimes these people are simply falling prey to local pride and grading on a generous curve.”
Well, it's better to fall prey to local pride in Brooklyn than to fall prey to a local pride in the Serengeti, that's for sure.
Frank had been resisting Al di La. Why ever?
“One reason was practical: it doesn't take reservations, and I wasn't wild about traveling to Park Slope to wait an hour or more…” Boo hoo. They take your cell phone number and you hit up a lezzie bar until they’ve got room for you. Mayhaps this appeals to me more than to Frank?
Awww, Jules’ christening!
“Another reason was journalistic: the charms of Al di Là weren't exactly secrets (hence those waits), so what purpose did a fresh look serve?”
Meanwhile, Frank's scrupulous investigations of Spigolo, Frederick’s of Madison, Bette, and recent restaurant Toilet Trends have shed great light on the impact of U.S. intervention in the Middle East.
But the third reason Frank avoided Al di La, I can certainly sympathize with: it’s the same reason I avoid “Lost” and “24.” Everyone’s SOOOOOO fucking into it and you feel like you’ll NEVER catch up and you’re totally alienated in idiot silence around the water cooler, and it’s like, you try, but these insane plotlines make you feel about as perceptive as a dolphin who’s recently had its head run over by a speedboat.
"Lost" script goes through its final editing stages at ABC headquarters.
OK, I’m off topic a bit, but the point is, when everyone is so unanimously in love with something, it makes you want to dig your heels deep into a trench of annoyed skepticism, even, as Frank says, “pure stubbornness: so many Brooklyn friends were so smug in asserting that this little Italian gem was the ideal neighborhood restaurant. Even if they were right, I didn't want to grant them that.”
Why would you? Those oaty Brooklynites would have taken their pride to the streets, inciting lord knows what kind of organic, child-friendly violence.
Only minutes before being sniped by a Manhattan SWAT team, this Brooklynite's drum circle was dangerously smug.
The food isn’t perfect—as per usual, there’s a dry chicken among the missteps. But on the whole, Frank digs the reliable, unaffected fare. And he points out the best tripe on the island, in my opinion at least:
“Al di Là has also been doing its tripe appetizer since the beginning, and I hope it will do its tripe appetizer until the end. Blissfully slimy and appropriately chewy, the tripe is cooked and served in a bath of white wine, soffritto and tomatoes, with grilled peasant bread that you can, and should, use to mop up the liquid remnants.”
Mop the liquid remnants… Nice one, Cyrano de Bergerac. Delicately put. Sounds more like what you do if a fourth grader pukes in the computer lab.
"Not another one...They have GOT to stop studying flight simulators..."
But either way, we’re agreed that the maneuver’s pretty essential.
In conclusion, "Al di Là, whose name is a kind of Italian double entendre, referring literally to 'the other side' and figuratively to the great beyond, beckons and rightfully attracts food lovers from far and wide, their local prejudices trumped by its universal appeal."
In other words: “You weren’t just being your cozy, prideful selves again, Brooklyn; this place is great. Now go to the Food Co-Op and roll in some trail mix while I retreat to my chateau to tickle my fanny with the tattered pages of a classic novel."
Man, it just makes me feel so...so small and hanicapped.
And now, if you'll excuse me, my ride is here.