302 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 475-9531

I try very hard to self-police the places where I eat and even harder when I write about them here on my piddling little blog. But, Speeds was adamant and loves, LOVES, John's here. I, much to her chagrin, do not. Because this won't be an especially glowing posting, let's just get it over with.

There are reasons that I don't particularly like red-sauce Italian places and John's manages to exemplify most of them. John's is over 100 years old, which should be a selling point. Using Darwinian logic, if something's been around for a hundred years, it's gotta be good. Despite what Lady and the Tramp might imply, most of these generic red-sauce restaurants are less dark and romantic, with menus full of grandma's secret recipes, than they are dark and old, with menus reminiscent of what pizza places sell when they aren't selling pizza.

In the rear dining room sits a candle display. Over time, the wax from these candles has become a mountain; grown like a volcano. A century of drippings. Some could argue that this is a romanticized testament to the staying power of local, family run businesses. Survival of the traditional in spite of the continuous trend towards newer and younger and trendier venues. But really, it's just creepy. Perhaps if it were one of many peppered throughout the restaurant, but it sits alone at the end of a long table, as though it were honoring a coffin that had long ago been taken away.

John's tries hard to be romantic, with each table having a it's own large white candle. But these candles sit on a tea saucer instead of a sconce, which exudes a cheapness that is automatically unappetizing. Plus, our tablecloth was replete with old wax drippings and the occasional crumb and permastain.

The food. Speeds and her boyfriend had been here a couple of times and they thought it was just the bees' knees. She and I ordered a handful of dishes. I ordered a Margherita Pizza, in part because the waiter talked up how it had this perfect, thin crust. Well, it was certainly a thin crust. Paper thin. But given how soggy it was, I'm surprised it held together at all. And while it wasn't "bad", there is room for vast improvement... like the wet sponge of a crust. I ordered the Stuffed Mushrooms. Five, small (1.5 inch in diameter), seemingly store-bought mushrooms, stuffed with what may as well have been Stove-Top, baked, and then served soaking wet. As if to emphasize the smallness of this appetizer, it was served on a massive plate. Speeds ordered a Mozarella Appetizer Special. I forget the exact name, but it was basically a ball of Buffalo mozzarella with slices of tomato and olive oil. This wasn't bad and she loved it... And for $15, she should.

Entrees. They don't get much more standard than this. Speeds ordered the Baked Homemade Lasagna. My dad makes a better one, but this one was pretty good. She concurred. My entree was the Chicken Parmagiana with Spaghetti. The chicken was heavily breaded and even more heavily cheesed. That's fine, but although the meat was tender, it would have been bone dry without being buried in sauce and cheese. The spaghetti was flat-out disappointing. It was tough, but not al dente. This means that while it could have been undercooked, it was dry and therefore I think more likely that it was made before I placed my order and lingered until bought by yours truly.

I decided to skip dessert, but Speeds ordered the Tirsmisu. And you know what? It was really really good! This, with some coffee, was the best part of the meal. Hoo-rah!

In spite of my own personal opinions about John's thus far, the service was perfect. Every waiter was great and helpful and upbeat. Additionally, while you might expect the customer base to be exclusively of the pensioner set, this was not the case. From twenty-somethings to sixty-somethings, everyone got a piece of the pie, soggy though that pie may be.

For mediocre food sold in a dingy, yellowing setting, John's is far from cheap. How we almost spent $100 on this meal is beyond me. And by the way, John's is CASH ONLY. I was unaware of this at the time and none too thrilled when I found out. Lucky for us, we had hit up an ATM, but should you have your checkbook on you for some reason, they will take personal checks.

Two appetizers, one pizza, two entrees, one dessert, two coffees, tax and tip was over $90.

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.