Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Best Pre/Post-Met Meal/Snack

(This is the first of a series of Best Of posts, in which I'll recommend the best places in New York for a variety of standard and not-so-standard purposes...)

The best place for a sandwich or a full, sit-down meal before or after a visit to the Met is Via Quadronno, on 73rd between Madison and 5th. The food is excellent, and for the 'hood, well priced. For paninis, go for the breseola: buttered, crispy focacia-style panini with thinly sliced lemons and breseola. The gellato is the best in Mahattan, and the wine list is solid.

But the best part is the crowd. Without fail, every hour, the place is full of UES European lushes (mostly Italian, French, and Swiss), fully kitted out in Kitton and Prada. Every once in awhile, you come across an article about the luxury real estate market in Europe, and you think, Where do the they get all that money? Doesn't the social-dem state tax them all to the middle class? And it's not as if you've ever actually met anyone who works for PNB Paribas or Credit Lyonaise! Who are these people? They're the diners at Via Quadronno. And as the Times points out, they're sitting there with all of their money in the middle of weekday afternoons, too. As Della Puppa, the Italian owner of the joint said, "American rich, you are a C.E.O., you have no time. Italian rich, they live like rich people. They go to work at noon. They enjoy life." Go because you're envious, go because you're righteous, but go because this is the most easily-accessible stomping ground of this rare, but definite Manhattan subculture. And the food's top rate.

Closer runner up: Cafe Sabarsky at the Neue Gallerie, at 86th and 5th.

(For drinks, make sure you're dressed right, and hit the Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle.)