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Robert Schonfeld

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Some elderly readers may remember that the south side of 13th Street west of Sixth Avenue was the site of La Tulipe, an early effort at moving away from the formal French model in fine dining. As I recall, the chef was Sally Darr, and her genial husband served as host.

While no comparable culinary destination has emerged on the block in the intervening decades, there is now Gonzo, a friendly place with a nice menu; the sort of place I'd like to have around the corner.

Comparisons with Otto are inevitable, but of limited usefulness. Both serve grilled flatbread style pizzas, both offer quartini of wine. That's about as far as it goes. Otto is a layout-ready scene; Gonzo is a neighborhood restaurant with a full menu.

Gonzo takes reservations for its bi-level, high-ceilinged, slightly dark, Italianate back room, which, on the Saturday evening we were there, remained quiet, with a table or two free at all times. The plainer, smaller front room is for walk-ins. It was busy when we got there, even more busy when we left. At 7:30, a party of six was offered the hope of a table in two hours.

The pizzas are unleavened sheets of dough, unevenly rolled, extremely thin and pregrilled. When an order comes in, they are topped and finished. The absence of a rising agent, and the fast, hot finish produce a nicely charred crust with the tooth of a cracker. The moisture and weight of the toppings make the center of the pie soft without being chewy (because the crust is so thin). I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing. That's just the way it is. We tried the Asimov-recommended soppresata, and a margherita, which is a touchstone. They were both fine. The odd shapes were fun, as was eating six or eight slices which altogether had the density of maybe one or two slices of pizza parlor pie. More like cocktail food.

With two successive Saturdays of neo-pizza-tainment, I find myself craving more than ever the thing I have never known: the New Haven grail.

From a mixed plate of salumi and cheese I remember a good tallegio. (Actually, I remember it all, but that's what was worth remembering.)

Also recommended was a stuffed quail, which I would describe as meat texture and stuffing texture wrapped in a piece of bacon, with a strong rosemary-infused reduction with cherries.

Wines were unmemorable. Espresso was a C.

Service was friendly, like the place.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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  • 2 weeks later...

And so did I. Investigated it last Friday in the company of an expert. I enjoyed the pizzas enormously. You can mix toppings (maximum two maybe?), so we shared a soppressata/margherita. The crust was delicate, crisp, but still pizza-like, with the little charred puffs around the crust which remind me of pizzas actually eaten in Italy. The topping was tasty.

The chef ventured out of the open kitchen, so one eGulleter pinned him to the wall, while the other shone a torch in his eyes and peppered him with questions about his pizza methodology. They cook the pies entirely on a grill, with no overhead heat. The grill is set to different temperatures so the pies can be moved around (must be a big grill), ensuring that the toppings become molten without the base becoming burnt. No oven. Well, for me, that answers the question whether excellent pizza can be made without an oven.

The slices are easy to cut, and can also be approached as finger-food. They hold their shape beautifully, only the moist center showing some sag. We also found room for some hot, crispy deep-fried olives.

My entree was the quail: a sausage and apple stuffing in the de-boned - a flavor which I'd associate more with a goose or turkey, but it was fine. Good crunchy brussel sprouts from the long list of sides. We didn't take in much wine - just a drizzle of Dolcetto.

Too loud, of course, but I thought the church-like look of the place was most attractive. Service de-celerated markedly after we'd been served entrees.

Edited by Wilfrid (log)
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I had two very good meals at Vincent Scotto's previous venue, Scopa, before it morphed into a place with headache-inducing cacophony :angry: (they expanded and built a new bar area from whence emanated said noise), after which the cuisine totally deteriorated :sad: , and that was even before Vincent left. On my second visit, Vincent came round to our table, and we talked briefly. A very pleasant fellow. I told him that the Venetian-style liver and onions main course I had had was delicious. :smile: He said that it was an authentic preparation.

Wilfred, Is it on the Gonzo menu?

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As I'm not yet at full fighting weight, I shone the light in Vincent's eyes. Fiercely, I might add.

What Wilfrid said about the pizzas - I was smitten, though this is far from an expert opinion. I simply loved the restraint used in the topping - as chef explained, he doesn't smear on the sauce, but blobs it, and the other toppings: this way, each bite will be different and the palate doesn't tire.

I'll say this about the fried olives - let them cool, or risk an explosion of molten olive juice.

I had the rigatoni Bolognese which I found delish. Again, nice balance between pasta and sauce and that great meaty bite you want from the Bolognese.

I'll definitely be back for more pizza.

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Dinner last night with two chums. To begin we shared a sopressata pizza which was delicious. The base has the consistency of Indian bread--paratha-like, crispy around the edge and in places underneath, slightly greasy and a little chewy. We also had a plate of olives and the beets-Gorgonzola salad, both very good.

Next I had the calf's liver, which may not have been the best I've ever tasted, but it was sliced paper thin, tender (though maybe just a touch overcooked) and the gravy was quite rich. Very good reports from those who had the roast chicken and stuffed quail.

Perfectly nice Sangiovese.

Picture of the main dining room


which is very noisy around 9PM on a Saturday. The area around the bar as you walk in seemed quieter and cozier.


140 W 13th St (b/w 6th and 7th Aves)

New York, NY 10011-7802

Phone: (212) 645-4606

Edited by yvonne johnson (log)
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  • 2 years later...

Anyone been here recently?

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I WISH that Gonzo were in my neighborhood, I'd probably hang there. The pizza

is grilled, then topped, then warmed on the grill again to marry the ingredients.

We had two, (they are almost as thin as an Alsace tarte flambe) the first was mashed potatoes and sausage, the second (better in my opinion) was carmelized

onions and 'schrooms. We were grazing, so there were a number of tastes on the table. I liked the sardines in saor (classic Venice, where the Chef spent a year),a

three (you choose) item plate of very nice cacciatorini with fig and fennel jam, some procuitto di Parma (what could be bad?) and ripe spreadable Gorgonzla.

Another dish I fancied was a grilled sweet onion salad. A fennel crusted pork

tenderlion brought raves from several of us. We managed to wash all of this good

eats with a Sicilian blend of Nero and Syrah, by the handle of BENUARA Cusumano 04. Did not know the wine before, but will make it's aquaintance again.

IF, I had any disclaimers, it would be that the room is very large and without

sound deadening, but what the hell, I'd be sitting in the bar area or outside if I was a regular.

GO! to Gonzo..140 W 13th St. NYC , 212-645-4606 and tell Vincent that I enjoyed myself in his establishment.

Ted Task

Rockville, MD.

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