217 Eldridge Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 253-9199

Bossette and her beau Shoulders were persistent. Dinner. Now. Come on, Jon. Let's get a move on. Bossette (now, ex-Bossette) and Shoulders have this thing for Italian food. She hit a home run with I Coppi once upon a time. This time she invited myself and Pike to sample the fare at Apizz.

Apizz sits in Nolita on a quiet, old street. Glowing near the corner, up above the heads of potential patrons, is the unobtrusive neon Apizz sign. Thankfully, this sign exists. Like many older New York neighborhoods, the streets are named instead of numbered, and finding anything without a map or a guide is tough. We had a cell phone. Same thing. Once we turned down the right block, the neon guided us to safety... or in this case, dinner.

Right away, I was impressed with Apizz. The interior is classic and classy, without being snobby or pretentious. It has a very calm feeling. After walking through the front hallway, you're greeted by the open kitchen and fireplace oven, which burns attractively until late. There are two dining rooms, each small, but not cramped. Apizz is dimly lit. Not so dim that it's exclusively for couples, but dim enough that I worried about my flash photography irritating another table. but no one seemed to care. The vibe was very warm. Needless to say, it's a really nice space.

I think that my initial impression upon walking in, added to Bossette's having hyped the place up, may have been a contributing factor to my ultimate disappointment. My expectations were too high for the food.

Apizz had a decent wine list, but for whatever reason, we weren't in a wine mood. So a round of beers were ordered instead. Italian microbrews. Soon after, bread and marinara sauce arrived.

The four of us decided to split three appetizers. First up, the Apizz Margherita, otherwise known as a margarita pizza. Sounds boring. It wasn't. This was, far and away, the best appetizer we ordered. We should have just ordered three of them. The thin crust was crisp but soft, rather than cracker-brittle as you sometimes can get. There was tons of flavor packed into every bite of this rectangular dish and it willed you to eat it slowly so not to miss any. We followed this up with the Mazzarella di Bufala e Peperoni, slabs of buffalo mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, a scoop of roasted peppers, and a little bowl of olives. Sure, they all tasted good. I mean, who doesn't like eating a big slice of cheese? I feel like this was more wine-bar food than restaurant food. All we needed were a little bowl of nuts to round things out. Maybe some prosciutto. Wait?!? What's that? Is it our third appetizer? It is. Pera Con Prosciutto, pears drizzled in balsamic vinegar, prosiutto, parmigiana cheese, and walnuts. All just... sitting there. I decided to try making sandwiches, but really, who was I fooling? The prosciutto was excellent (really) and I'm not one to turn down a pear. But other than look nice on the plate, this did nothing for me.

Come entree time, Bossette and Shoulders chose to split the Gnocchi con Ragu di Carne. It's a good thing that they did. This entree was large enough for two. It was basically a gnocci-beef stew. Gnocci, honey-braised beef short-ribs, and a tomato-based sauce. The gnocci was perfectly tender and the beef melted in your mouth. It was not something I was expecting. This is the perfect cold weather, winter dish and I'd come back here when the temperature isn't 80 degrees to eat it again. It's very heavy though, so skip lunch. Bossette and Shoulders, again chose the winning dish.

My entree was the Maiale e Riso, apricot glazed pork chops with vegetables and rice. At first, I really didn't care for it. First off, although there was certainly a sweet glaze of some sort, I would be lying if I said that it tasted of apricot. In fact, everyone who sampled it agreed that there was something off about it. Almost a fishy taste. Bossette stated point-blank that one bite was enough for her. However, I discovered that if you sprinkle on a little bit of salt, followed by a whole lot of pepper, it ended up being pretty good. Night and day. The salt pulled out the pork flavor and the pepper mellowed out the fishiness (not that it ever went away...). On the other hand, the vegetables and the rice were flat and tasteless. Perhaps they were hidden under the chops for a reason. On the plus side, the chops were very moist and well seared. I can't fault the cook, but the chef needs to retool the recipe.

Finally, Pike's dish, the Fazzoletti i Granchio, handkerchief pasta with crab meat in a creamy tomato sauce. I didn't think it was bad, but I was personally less than impressed with it. Pike enjoyed it, recommended it, and since he ate the whole dish (which is more than I did with the chops) it couldn't have been all that bad.

We took a quick peek at the dessert menu but didn't order anything.

So what's the final result here? Apizz didn't live up to the hype. It's as simple as that. The service was good, but Pike felt that our waiter was too eager to get our order, rather than wait until the menus had been closed. I didn't much care. The appetizers were blah, save the pizza, which was very very good and the entrees, save the gnocchi, were mediocre. The atmosphere was excellent. Can I see myself returning? Yes, with a "but". And I think the "but" might be "but order the same think that Bossette and Shoulders do".

Three beers, one glass of wine, two sodas, three appetizers and three entrees, no dessert, plus tax and tip clocked in at $166.

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