Don’t Look Back in Hunger: A Return to Da Silvano and Eli’s E.A.T.

The family was in town this weekend for a wedding. They came a little earlier than usual (Wednesday instead of Friday) because dad’s office has no power still (after Hurricane Wilma) and Michael’s college is similarly out of commision. Usually when the family comes I use my powers of manipulation to ensure that we eat at places beneficial to my website: interesting foodie havens that I can’t afford on my own, that I haven’t yet reviewed and that would be of interest to my large reading public.

But my parents like their comfort food. And nothing says comfort food more than “big Italian lunch.” Their favorite lunch spot in Florida is in Bal Harbor, a place called Carpaccio’s where they share Caesar salad, dad gets pounded veal and mom has a pasta with seafood in it. Thus, after taking them to Pearl Oyster Bar on Thursday (they loved the lobster rolls (“this bread is sick it’s so good,” said mom about the brioche bun); dad thought the clam chowder wasn’t as good as the one he had recently at L&N Seafood in Boston) we passed Da Silvano on the way to SoHo and mom made a reservation for the next day.

“But we’ve already been here,” I pleaded.

But it was no use. And so I set upon the idea of re-reviewing Da Silvano. Let me find the old review.

***Pause while Adam finds the old review.***

***Oh no! Adam realizes that he did write about Da Silvano the last time he went, but he didn’t document it—he simply told the story of a waiter who refused to give us balsamic vinegar for the mozzarella. Adam feels like a fool.***

I feel like a fool. So this is the first time I’ve reviewed Da Silvano. Look how pretty the outside seating is:

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The weather this weekend was mind-alteringly gorgoues. Nicer days have never been invented. So sitting outside was a real treat.

The menu wasn’t outrageously expensive (at least for lunch) and the items on it were varied and interesting. My new favorite game is to order things that make my mother gasp and say, “Oh Adam, don’t order that.” So I started with octopus and pumpkin salad with radicchio.

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Lovely presentation, no? And it tasted really good, really interesting. The octopus was tender, slightly salty; the pumpkin was cut in squares and roasted so it was sweet. The radicchio gave it all a bitter base for the other flavors to react to. I enjoyed it.

Dad and Michael each got a salad (dad had mozarella and tomato; Michael had mesclun) and they were presented with a spray bottle of balsamic vinegar, which I thought was a funny touch. Here’s Michael spraying vinegar on his salad:

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He then sprayed some under his arms and went about his day.

For our entrees, mom picked a winner with this clam spaghetti:

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And I picked a loser with this taggliatelle (sp?) and porcini mushrooms:

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It looks tasty, yes, but looks are deceiving. It just tasted like a big fat oily noodle with some oily mushrooms alongside it. I really didn’t enjoy it.

But dessert was nice. I switched seats with mom because the sun was in my face and I didn’t have sunglasses (she did.) (Isn’t she a nice mom?) Here’s my cappuchino (which you’re not supposed to drink after a heavy meal but I like to have a substantive coffee drink at lunch and an espresso shot wouldn’t really give me the umph I needed) with the obligatory Tiramasu for the table:

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Of course this was good: moist, rich, ladyfingers and fluffy marscapone. Those Italians: they know their dessert.

And so in conclusion, the last time I went to Da Silvano I thought it was just ok. That’s probably why I didn’t write about it. And this time I think it’s a little better than ok but still pretty much ok. It’s a scene. It’s good for a nice day. “It’s the closest thing New York has to The Ivy,” said mom, referencing the famous L.A. place to see and be seen. And if being seen is your scene then glean what I mean and order something lean.

***

Last time I went to Eli’s E.A.T. (I can’t find the link since Google dropped me), I thought it was way overpriced and only mildly worthwhile. This time I went with mom and she referred to it afterwards as: “A crummy lunch.”

We started with soup. She had chicken noodle. I had carrot:

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I liked my carrot soup. It tasted like something you might make out of a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. [And notice the mostly eaten raisin bread. The raisin bread is probably the best part about eating at E.A.T.]

Mom didn’t rave over her chicken noodle.

For our entrees, I had a swordfish salad Nicoisse:

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This looks like it might be an interesting salad but it really wasn’t. It felt like something I could do at home. I suppose the ingredients were really fresh, but if you don’t use them in a worthwhile way what’s the point of fresh ingredients?

But mom’s salad was really the worst. She ordered the roast chicken salad. All she got was a bowl of mesclun greens, pieces of chicken, and some dressing. That’s it.

She tried to be nice about it. “It’s just a little boring,” she said.

It was really boring. We barely finished what was on our plates.

Which, though, was lucky because our hunger allowed us to order not one but two desserts. Observe mom with her brownie:

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And observe my coconut cake:

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The brownie was rich and moist and the coconut cake was soaked in some kind of liquid that gave it lots of flavor. We enjoyed this part of the meal. “Let’s just come here for dessert next time,” said mom.

I think she has the right idea.

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