Sarah, being a well-seasoned restaurant tour guide, had our destinations all planned. First up: Tom Colicchio's restaurant, Riverpark, to dine outside near the East River and soak up as much premature spring weather as possible. Then she decided we needed to check out The Frying Pan, an old lightship-turned-docked drinking boat. Need she say more?
Shortly after relaying to me our plans for the afternoon, followed by our bouts of excitement, we decided to be on the safe side and call for reservations to make sure there'd be a table for us at Riverpark as we trekked on over.
Then came the let-down: a special event meant the restaurant was closed that day for lunch (Who do you think you are, Tom Colicchio, with your fancy Top Chef friends? Tempting us with your river-side dining then closing your restaurant on a sickeningly beautiful day? Rude.).
(Just kidding, I love you.)
However, Sarah doesn't come without a backup plan. We ended up going to one of Mario Batali's restaurants, Lupa Osteria Romana. They didn't have seats outside, so we stayed inside the cozy building and enjoyed some pasta.
Inside of Lupa. They even have a prosciutto slicer on deck!
One of my all time favorite dishes at the restaurant I work at is the grilled calamari and octopodi. If eating octopus just isn't up your alley, the way they serve it there will definitely make you a believer. So when I saw the octopus on the menu at Lupa, Sarah and I decided we had to try it.
Octopus with Farro
It was good, not rubbery or anything. The flavors were fine, and all-in-all it was a pretty good dish. I guess I just am biased towards our own octopus that it'd take a pretty convincing argument via plate to win me over.
Next we went for some pasta. I had the pasta special for the day, which was a linguini pasta with a tomato and chicken sauce. Sarah went for the waitress's suggestion of their "Bavette Cacio and Pepe," another linguini-like pasta with a butter and black pepper sauce. Both were simple and very good, not heavy at all like many pasta dishes. The portions were appropriate too (aka weren't made to serve an entire family).
Linguini with tomato and chicken sauce
Bavette Cacio & Pepe
Overall, Lupa was a good plan "B." The meal was pleasant and simple, and the company was great. We decided we liked it, but there wasn't anything in particular that would have us yearning to go back. However, if you're in the area and are looking for some great, simple Italian food, Lupa would be a great pick.
After lunch we made a quick stop at Sarah's place to regroup before heading out to the Frying Pan. Having learned from our last experience, we decided to call ahead. Lo and behold, it was closed, not to be open again til the following weekend.
Sarah, with her brilliance, knew that the renowned White Horse Tavern wouldn't let us down. So that's where we ended up, finally sitting outside, basking in the sun and enjoying a few beers.
One last stop before heading to the train left us at our tried-and-true Chelsea Market for some gelato. Some perfectly-made sour cherry and spicy chocolate gelato to be exact (excellent choices, by the way). Sarah went for the tiramisu and panna cotta gelati, which were heavenly.
Luckily we were able to get much accomplished before reaching strike three (wouldn't want to find out what happens after strike three...). Nothing may have gone as planned, but armed with the 2012 Zagat NYC restaurant guide and Sarah's vast knowledge of Manhattan, that's all the more reason to go back and try again.