This place is terrible. Frankly, I think I haven’t been served a worse meal in the past year or more! Here’s the background story.
Last night, Aimee & I went to see Catherine Opie give a lecture at the Center on her body of work as it ties into her current retrospective on view at the Guggenheim. The lecture was great and totally satisfying. I had never seen Catherine speak before (nor seen her in person) and the room the lecture was held in was the perfect size. A number of people asked questions after her lecture and she was excited to answer them. Also, she was both and articulate lecturer (she’s a professor at UCLA) and very approachable.
After the lecture however was a different story. Our bellies empty from jaunting straight from work to Catherine’s lecture, we were on the hunt for satiating food. One thought was Two Boots (pizza) which I poo-pooed as I wasn’t exactly feeling like American pizza and as Two Boots was overly casual for what I wanted. Strolling down the streets near 14th, we eyed Good Restaurant, A Salt & Battered, Tea & Sympathy, Soy Luck Club and a couple others. While some of these were tempting, Artepasta seemed the best because of (1) their prices were low and (2) they seemed to offer something that both I and Aimee would like to have. I saw the caprese pizza with “burrata mozzarella”, basil, extra virgin olive oil and fresh tomato. Aimee saw the insalata mixta with soppresata (“sopresto”) and “focaccia croutons”. We entered.
First minor foul note, we were seated in the drafty center section right by the door. No one else was seated in this section. And the interior door was propped open in such a way that when a group entered, the draft hit us for a good duration. Originally we were seated on the end of a long row of empty tables but asked to move over one as we kept getting hit by the waiters as they walked by to the service station right next to our table. After ordering, we sat there for a good 20 to 30 minutes, the first half of which Aimee spent shivering and eventually put her coat on. Eventually we had to ask one of the waiters (not ours who was standing idly right by us but not paying attention) to close the interior door. He complied which was good.
Then, our food arrived. Now, I had ordered the caprese pizza. I asked the waiter if it was like the pizza margharita to which he said it was. I order the pizza in an Italian restaurant. What arrived was a spongy mess of a “pizza” that layered tomatoes that tasted like they had been frozen, with mounds of generic pre-grated mozzarella cheese (not the fresh Italian bufalo mozzarella). It was essentially (if not in reality) a frozen microwaved pizza plopped down on my plate! It was awful!
During the course of the mention (and after we finished…not that our waiters noticed we were finished) our waiter kept sneaking up and spooking Aimee! Seriously! He would come up behind her really quickly, wrap the water pitcher around her to her glass and whisper “Is everything ok”. Ugh. He even did this (and refilled our water glasses) when we had put our napkins on the table in order to signal we wanted the check. ergh. We’re done. Take our plates away.
At the end of the (long) meal, the (inattentive) waiter brought our change back in such a way that we could only leave him a 21% tip or higher with the change he gave us. (He left a 1, a 5 and a 10.) After ultimately flagging down his co-worker (the same co-waiter who closed the interior door for us), we received change for the 5 in order to leave the tip. Now, I say “flagging down” but that really is a liberal use of the word…. the pack of waiters and the female bartender were all just standing there the whole time in a clump by the waitstation chatting.
81 Greenwich Ave (btwn. Bank St & 7th Ave. South)
New York, NY 10021