801 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
(212) 878-9600

Dean's location is awesome for me, since it's only a few measley blocks from where I work. If only its food could keep up. Turtle (who lives nearby) and I had been playing phone tag trying to come up with a time and place to grab dinner and hang out. Dean's worked out well since his apartment is down the block and I could expense it on one of my all-too-typical long days.

Deans serves red-sauce, traditional (ie: stereotypical), family-style, Italian food. Spaghetti, lasagna, fettucini, veal and chicken parmesan, et cetera. There's a great big pizza oven in the back. In your mind's eye, picture a mobster with a napkin tucked into his collar. Whatever he's eating, they serve. Someone's grandma showed up with a binder of family recipes and that's what the cooks use.

The radio, when it's on, seems to exclusively play Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Although I do seem to recall hearing some Ella Fitzgerald. The walls are lined with Rat Pack photos. But actually, that's the extent of the kitch. Could I do without Frank and Dean and other singers crooning in my ear? Yeah. Plus, there are some flat-screen televisions on the wall playing sports or news, which I think it pretty tacky. But other than that, the rest of the place has a very clean-lined, modern feel to it. It's dimly lit but not in a bad way. There's a second floor that partially overhangs the first floor. It's a simple space, but actually could be pretty cool.

The service certainly can't be faulted. Everyone from the maitre d' to the waiters to the water guy were all nice and attentive and never in your face.

But the food. So the first time I went, to my dismay, Turtle ended up ordering the same exact thing I did: Lasagna. I love lasagna, but it's very hard to find a really good one. I'm so often disappointed, and this time proved no exception. Maybe it's because my dad makes the best lasagna I've ever had and probably ever will have. Deans' lasagna came out dry and burned. Turtle told me that he ordered it all the time, loved it, and said that I couldn't go wrong. He was embarrassed when the bitter, tomato-y brick was served to us and asked that I not judge the place on that specific days faulty food. Naturally, I had to return.

So we came back. I asked him not to, but he ordered the lasagna again. And yes, it was better, but not amazing. While he liked it, and maybe you will, too, I have to rank it as just average. For an appetizer, Turtle got Mozzarella Caprese, a mozzarella dish with pesto, garlic, olives, and roasted red peppers. I didn't get around to trying it, but he thought it was very good. My choice was one of my favorite Italian standards, Fried Calamari. Alas, it was just mediocre. Not that it was bad, just excessively breaded and not tender enough. Finally, I ordered Chicken Marsala for my entree. It followed the example set by it fried calamari predecessor and was too tough, too bland, and even though it was coated in a mushroom gravy, too dry.

The thing about family-style restaurants in general, and Dean's in particular, is that there's no feeling that the food was made for you because you ordered it. It feels like it was made in bulk hours ago between the lunch and dinner crunches and then spooned onto your plate. I don't normally give bad reviews, so if anyone reading this has been there and I simply went on two off days in a row, let me know what you ate.

For the record, I'll be heading back, gambler that I am, for a third time at some point in the near future to try my luck yet again. But no more lasagna.

The second meal, which came with two appetizers, two entrees, and two sodas (no dessert), plus tax, excluding tip, cost $49.85.

You Might Also Like



The contents of this website/weblog are the property of its author and are protected under the copyright and intellectual property laws of the United States of America. The views expressed within are the opinions of the author. All rights reserved.

Readers are free to copy and distribute the material contained within, but such external use of the author's original material must be properly attributed to the author. Attribution may be through a link to the author's original work. Derivative use is prohibited. The borrower may not alter, transform, or build upon the work borrowed.

The author is free to change the terms of this copyright at any time and without notice. At the written request by the borrower, the author may choose to waive these rights.