Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mediocre Mile: Lasagna

Much like his ancestors, the Glitter Gourmet has immigrated to the land of Lady Liberty from a dark and oppressive place – Brooklyn. About a week ago I grabbed a tube of chapstick and my dance belt and moved to the glimmering Emerald City - Chelsea. Chelsea is known for many things – cute boys, expensive drinks, syphilis – but good food isn’t one of them. 8th avenue from 24th to 14th is known to be a veritable who’s who of faux-trendy restaurants severing up faux-haute-cuisine. However, in my new digs I will undoubtedly be spending plenty of quality time at these stops, so I’ve decided to start a new series to find the haves and the have-nots of what I loving call New York’s Mediocre Mile. I’m going on a search for the good, the bad, and the ugly of Chelsea restaurants. I’ll be doing the same for Chelsea men, but that’s a different blog…

My first venture out on the town as a resident of Chelsea was the aptly named Lasagna. Weary from hours of painting, with my equally paint-splattered parents in tow, we started trekking up 8th avenue in the antithesis of my usual high-gloss strut down 8th on a Saturday night. As I wasn’t feeling very pretty and was feeling very hungry, I suggested we checkout the hearty, down-to-earth Lasagna (a place guaranteed to have no “scene”). As we scoped the menu, a well-built, well-plucked, and extremely well-…mannered host came outside to sell us on Lasagna. As he rattled off the laundry list of meats they wrap in pasta and cheese, my mother mouths “he’s very handsome” to me. She says that now, but I’d like to see her face if I showed up for Rosh Hashana with a 22 year-old Latin restaurant host/actor/dancer, but I digress… The prices were reasonable and the typical America/Italian fare made my parents happy so we took a table for three.

As we walked by the staff of plastic pretty pansies, we sat down to find the only female waiter in the entire restaurant. When she asked what she could get us, I thought to myself, “a waiter with limp wrists, swooping side bangs, and an ass the just won’t quit,” but instead I said “tap water is fine.” After we placed our order, a basket of glistening garlic bread came swooping into our table. It smelled and looked like the fantastic stuff I grew up on in suburban Italian joints, but I decided to save my calories for a glass of Chianti ($6.95 – I asked if they had “to go” glasses).

While we waited I took note of the clientele, which wasn’t the typical tank-top-in-December Chelsea boys of G lounge, but by no means were the “you do know you’re in Chelsea, right?” crowd of Chipotle. It was a pretty eclectic mix of mostly gays that seemed to be a bunch of moderately attractive down-to-earth guys. I felt pretty comfortable with my parents, but would also head in for a gab session with some good friends.

The food came just in the nick of time, as I stared at the last few drops of my Chianti. My mom got a bowl of minestrone soup, which I wasn’t allowed to taste because she was sick and I might catch her cold, oy, but she said it was very good. My dad got his old standby, veal parmesan. This I was able to taste and, I must admit, although I could feel my arteries clog as I chewed, it was a really fantastic version of the dish – crisp chicken, moderately cheesy with a really flavorful marinara. With my meal, I did the impossible. I ate something healthy in an Italian restaurant. I got grilled rosemary chicken, which came on top of arugula with a side of whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce. It was the perfect fit to satisfy an Italian craving while maintaining a Chelsea waistline.

196 8th Ave.
(Corner of 20th St.)
New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212-242-4551
Fax: 212-242-4690