That’s the major thrust of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” (which I’ve reviewed on here) and I think it applies to going out to eat.
Let me explain:
I have these friends–let’s call them “Mosh” and “Paty”–who really love the pizza at Fritti. When I wrote a pizza post a couple of weeks back, Paty e-mailed me and said: “You ain’t tried nothin’ til you tried the pizza at Fritti.”
Last night, I had plans with my friends Mark and Michael K. and I suggested Fritti.
“It’s the best pizza in Atlanta,” I explained, quoting Paty.
“Ok, soundsd good,” said Mark. He made the reservation.
We got to Fritti around 7:30. What’s nice about Daylight Savings time is that now everything is bright and sunsetty at 7:30. It was really pretty out.
“Can we sit outside?” we asked the host.
“No,” he said. “We can seat you at a table inside right now, or you can wait thirty minutes.”
We mulled that over and caved into our hunger. “Inside it is,” we said.
[Maybe I should have slipped him a $50, as per the bribing article I posted. Anyone have a $50?]
They led us to a back corner table, past the woodburning ovens where the pizza is made:
I sat down and a beam of sunlight pierced my retina.
“Ow,” I said.
I moved seats and let the sunlight pierce the back of my head.
We perused the wine menu. Michael K. knows his wine, so we let him choose. He chose a bottle of Poliziano, a red Italian wine:
It was nice, though slightly acidic.
Next, we ordered appetizers. Based on a review we read online, we went for the calamari. And since we were three, we also ordered a Frito Misto of shrimp and scallops.
What came out was two giant platters of fried food:
I wish I could say that it was good, but it wasn’t. I didn’t like the batter—it was floury and unflavorful. It needed salt. And with a batter like that, you really wanted something to dip it in: garlic aioli or anything. All we got was a lemon.
And there was so much of it.
[An inversion of the Catskills/Woody Allen-Annie Hall joke of the two women at a restaurant: “The food here is terrible!” “And such small portions!”]
Anyway, the plates were taken away and out came our entrees. Mark and I went for pizza:
I took the waiter’s suggestion of the Pancetta Carmelized Onion Pizza with Hot Red Pepper Flakes:
Mark ordered pizza with smelly gorganzola, pineapple and balsamic vinegar:
Michael K. eschewed pizza for a pork chop, to his vast pleasure:
“This is delicious,” said Michael K.
Mark and I were underwhelmed by our pizzas.
I thought mine was fine—I liked the crust—but it was comparable to the pizza at Osteria; also thin, made in a wood-burning oven and with the added bonus of being cheaper.
Mark was equally indifferent to his pizza, saying he wished there was more pineapple.
Would I have felt different had I been there with Mosh and Paty? Well, turns out, Mosh and Paty were there that night too. They split two pizzas between four people and everyone seemed contented.
“Wasn’t the pizza great?” said Paty.
“Yes,” I lied.
[Good thing they don’t read this website or I’d be in SOOO much trouble!]
So, in summary, Fritti was less than stellar; perhaps it takes enthusiastic company to bump it up to stellar.
[Sharing in the sentiment, Lolita just barfed.]
[And since I threw that in, I’ll also add that last night I had a very disturbing apocolyptic dream where the world, basically, ended. Tony Soprano was there and we were all listening to the radio, as bombs started to drop. I blame it on Fritti.]