On a frigid cold Tuesday evening, I met my close personal playwright pal, Albee, after work for a very pleasant dinner at Trattoria Spaghetto located at 232 Bleeker Street at the corner of Carmine in the West Village. We were inspired to try this modestly priced home-style Italian eatery after reading puppeteer, Basil Twist’s recommendation in The New York Times. We like his taste in puppets, so why not check out his taste in restaurants? If I were inclined to write ghastly puns worthy of being beaten senseless with the nearest Genoa salami I might add that there were no strings attached.
As soon as we entered Trattoria Spaghetto we inhaled the aroma of garlic prompting Albee to declare, “I like it here.” The checked tablecloths, wood floors and exposed brick walls made us feel warm, and the friendly wait-staff, welcome. The crusty bread was extremely fresh, and although we could have easily devoured the entire basket, we practiced restraint, and were rewarded with two slices of delicious homemade bruschetta.
We each had a glass of the house wine that was generously filled almost to the brim, prompting Albee to facetiously joke, “Waiter, I’ll have a pint of the house red.” The waiter did not hear Albee’s quip so we were allowed to stay.
We started with the house salad, and for entrees, Albee had the ravioli with Bolognese sauce and I, the grilled salmon with a side order of escarole. Everything was tasty, and the portion size, substantial.
Following our meal, as we sipped tea the waiter presented us with a plate of Italian cookies, a nice finishing touch, even though Albee was certain that the one with the inviting dollop of chocolate he popped into his mouth was laced with pepper. Therefore, he had a fleeting “what the hell did I just eat?” moment. We also appreciated that we could easily hear ourselves talk unlike the many restaurants that play music to such a deafening degree, I am certain this has contributed to my hearing loss. If only blasting music could contribute to weight loss, I’d have the body of a super model.
Upon leaving, to have dessert elsewhere, we agreed that we would not only return, but also follow Basil’s lead and recommend it. As we were walking on Bleeker Street, I had a light bulb:
Me: Let’s go to that place we saw advertised during the US Open a million times last summer!
Albee is also an avid tennis enthusiast, but I forgot that he does not have a TV.
Albee: I watched most of the Open online. What’s this place?
Me: It looks real good. The owner is a woman who was shilling a Chase credit card. She opened this drinking and dessert place. It’s right around here.
For added emphasis, my neck becomes a periscope.
Albee: Sugar and alcohol, that sounds good. What’s this place called?
Me: I don’t remember, but I know we’re very near it. I think it’s in the same space as Vinylmania used to be.
To escape the freezer-like temperature, we duck into a bodega where Albee whips out his smart phone and conducts a search. He comes up empty. Back on Bleeker Street, as we’re walking past Murray’s Cheese Shop, we see a display embedded in the sidewalk of caved age cheese, something neither of us has ever noticed before.
Inside Murray’s, we ask the cashier if she knows where Vinylmania used to be. She doesn’t.
We give up our futile search for this establishment with a name I cannot remember at an address we cannot find that’s replaced a business that has ceased to exist. We cross the street to Pasticceria Rocco’s where we indulge in more Italian desserts. I have pignoli cookies that are similar to the ones my mother used to get from an Italian bakery in North Beach at Christmastime when I was growing up in San Francisco. Albee has what I pronounce “the Milton cake,” a towering, terrifying, artery clogging chocolate confection that’s actually called the Chocolate Lover’s Fantasy. Albee renamed it “two days worth of dessert” since it was impossible for him to finish.
When I returned home, I went online, and found the name of the dessert place that eluded detection, Sweet Revenge, a cupcake, beer and wine bar. It was located a block away from where we were at 62 Carmine Street. I likely walked right past it on my way to Trattoria Spaghetto. Marrone. Or maybe, moron is more fitting.