Mercato

352 W 39th StNew York, NY 10018 • (212) 643-2000 • mercatonyc.com

Mercato is located in a very weird area by all accounts, so there’s virtually no reason to go there. And after reading this review, there’s even one less reason than that.

Sure, the décor is cute, but the service is not. In fact, it’s kinda frustrating, because they disappear on you, they don’t listen and they are terrible with the recommendations. Plus, they are arrogant, acting as if they are serving up the second coming. Well, I have news for them, only one out of seven dishes was even just okay, making it the worst hit ratio I’ve seen in New York in a very long time. How Yelper’s gave this four stars is everything wrong with Yelp and why I left to start this blog in the first place.

As for the okay dish, it’s the rigatoni, but only if you blanket the thing with black pepper, crushed red pepper and parmesan. I’d go into more detail and list some of the other dishes not to get, but that would be pretty much all of them. From the stale bread on the table to the bland wine to the olives to the starters and entrees, it was lineup filled with more misses than the Three Blind Mice playing tag. Spare yourself the disappointment unless slimy octopus and airplane quality food are your thing, because Mercato is a resounding one knifer.

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Il Porcellino

59 W Hubbard Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 595-0800ilporcellinochicago.com

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Doing Al Capone proud, Il Porcellino (which means “Little Pig” in Italian- no idea why) feels like good, ole, authentic Chicago Italian, with lots of little back rooms tucked away in brick catacombs turned dining areas with private bars and back doors for easy escape… to smoke. Yes, Capone would’ve love this place, granted as slow as the service was, I think he might’ve whacked a few waiters until things improved.

Also worthy of mention is that we were a large party, and why I think this is of significance in this review is because very often that means that the food will be nowhere near as good as it would be during a typical dining experience. So fedora’s off to the piglet, because if this is a notch down, then it must be something special when you eat there like a normal person.

For starters the green chopped salad with kale, avocado, parmesan, pistachios and pepperoncini was good, as was the charcuterie, aka prosciutto trio (parma, cotto & speck). But if you want your world rocked, go with the guilty pleasure of the Tuscan Cheese Bread. I know it sounds like typical Americanified Italian crap, but damn is really friggin’ awesome Americanified Italian crap. Made even more kickalicious with some seriously spicy marinara for dippage.

Both pastas were also crowd pleasers. The rigatoni in vodka sauce with peas and red pepper flakes was a classic done right. And the orecchiette gigante with Italian sausage and broccolini, was right up there with it. Not even sure which was better.

What I am sure about was that the Steak Grigliata was terribliata. I’m guessing grigliatta is Italian for grisly because it was so undercooked and chewy it was inedible. In fact, I had to get up and go to the bathroom just to spit out my bite. And while I’m beating this dead horse, I would say it was so bad that it cost them a knive on this dish alone. That said, the parmesan-garlic fries were pretty darn good.

Ending on a high note, both desserts were great. The gelato is creamy and rich and the tiramisu cups are pretty spectacular.

3 teeth

Mezzaluna

Palmarina Yalıkavak, TK, 48990 +90 252 385 4292 • mezzaluna.com.tr
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I know it seems absolutely dreadful that I went all the way to Turkey to eat at a place I could have also dined at back home in New York, but we were in the Marina craving Italian and we weren’t about to throw down our life savings to eat at Cipriani (which I could also have in NY- just sayin’) , nor was it an option to sit anywhere near those obnoxious squawking parrots and macaws. So, that left us with Mezzaluna, which isn’t exactly the coolest place in the Marina, but that didn’t seem to be hurting their business any, because the place was packed. I recommend going on the earlier side if you want to sit on the roof and have the better view.

But the fact that they were so packed only made it that much more surprising how good the service was. Our waiter was friendly, calm, attentive and accommodating. I know this sounds rather basic, but to draw more attention as to just how accommodating, he moved our table to an area were there were no tables, just to shield us from all of the kids at nearby tables, since it was just wifey and I. Then, when the mosquitoes started to attack, he fetched us bug spray. And when my wife got cold, he cuddled with her. KIDDING. I was just seeing if you were paying attention.

As for the food, the panzanela salad was a bit of a miss. Pretty basic and not all that flavorful. Whereas both the pizza and the rigatoni proved to be pretty damn skippy for Turktalian. Perhaps that’s the upside of having roots back in good ole NYC.

The rigatoni is Sicilian style with beef tenderloin and eggplant in a nice red sauce that is only made nicer by the addition of chili oil- so be sure to ask for some. And the pizza was the Salsiccia. Part veal sausage, part green peppers and caramelized onion, and 100% all right, all right (to be read like Matthew McConaughey).

So nothing epic, to be fair, but it held its own against the likes of Vespa, which is the only other pizza place I trust in the Bodrum area. And our server really did go above and beyond, pulling in one extra knife for Mezzaluna all by his big, bad self.

3 teeth