Natalie came up the other evening for a night in the city. Even though it was a Saturday, I had to stop by the office for a few hours to get some work done and hadn't eaten much throughout the day. By the time she got here I was so hungry and I was craving Italian food and wanted to go down to Little Italy.
I haven't been down to Little Italy in years, so we headed down there with the mission to find the best pasta we could. After a few parking debacles (namely finding a spot two seconds too late and getting it jacked from us by some Canadians) we finally strolled down the streets of Little Italy and came across Grotto Azzurra, a restaurant that has sat in the heart of Little Italy since 1908. Yelp reviews waver on this establishment, but that evening, it was perfect for two hungry ladies who had a penchant for heaps of pasta. The host lured us in with promises of half priced drinks so we took an outdoor seat and people/tourist watched and sipped cocktails.
I had a blood orange martini which was divine and Natalie's mango pear martini was also delicious -- so delicious that a tippling fly dove right in for a sip (and its death). Natalie and I have been best friends since the 6th grade, so something about that evening was really significant to me as we chatted about our lives and some major turns they have been taking. I think that at that moment I was struck with a moment of true, unadulterated gratitude for life, a best friend, good food and drink, a job that paid for this all, and the opportunity to live in this wonderful city. I felt like we were finally women, grown from the days that we bickered over who would call Domino's Pizza for delivery or cried over broken teenage hearts.
The food came out and it was one of those thrilling food moments -- to see so much food piled on your plate. Definitely one of those eyes bigger than your stomach moments. Natalie had seared scallops on pesto risotto and I had gnocchi with gorgonzola and walnuts. We washed it down with a bottle of French chardonnay and I ate until my stomach hurt.
After dinner we skipped dessert and desperately needed to walk around so that I didn't feel like a potato sack full of wet dough. We searched for bubble tea, but the strange phenomenon of Chinatown seems to be that it shuts down at 8PM. Even on a Saturday night. We found a place that was serving papaya bubble tea but then they realized they had no more tapioca so Natalie was left with papaya tea that was ultimately, not very good.
Nonetheless, the dinner was delicious and was warm and satiating and exactly what I had been craving all day. That, in and of itself, is one of the greatest feelings in the world but it was coupled with a lovely moment with a best friend and I couldn't ask for anything more than that.
Next step: make my own gnocchi and make it ten times better!