Do You Feel Lucky?

2008.Nov.27 Thursday · 5 comments

in Restaurants

“What the hell do you think Leona really puts in that pizza?”

– Lili Taylor as JoJo in Mystic Pizza

Buenos Aires – Those of you who’ve been reading awhile might remember the fiasco I considered the much lauded Guido’s Bar in Palermo. I know, I know, I hear regularly from people how amazing it is, how much food you get, how incredible the food, the atmosphere, the people. I don’t get it. From my perspective, anyone who likes a place like that probably loves hanging out in Little Italy in NYC, one of the biggest jokes on the “Italian” food eating public that’s ever been perpetrated. I have been back to Guido’s once more to see if it was simply an off-day – it wasn’t, the menu was virtually identical that we received, and without being asked for additional plates, we were cut off after simply receiving antipasti and a couple of mediocre pastas – asking for more didn’t elicit any scorn, and we received, once again, a small plate of meat to share, but for the price, we shouldn’t have had to ask, they should have been asking us. I standby my rip-off assessment.

Lucky Luciano - pizza

Given that, I made no special plans to check out Carlos’ son’s place around the corner, Lucky Luciano, Cerviño 3943, Palermo, 4802-1262 [They’ve renovated and renamed the restaurant as Guido’s Restaurant, as opposed to the above referenced Guido’s Bar, and, I hear, changed the menu – so it’s due for a revisit]. A shame, because, despite the fact that it was opened in order to handle the “overflow” from dad’s restaurant, the place offers a completely different menu of wood-oven fired pizzas and handmade pastas, at reasonable prices, that are well worth seeking out. The room is good sized, well-appointed if a little filled with knickknacks and such, there’s a large patio style garden with more tables in the back, and we settled ourselves under the twilight sky and ravenously ate our way through a half-and-half napolitana paired off against arugula with fresh tomatoes and shavings of parmesan.

Lucky Luciano - spaghetti with grilled sausage and greens

We moved on to main courses, my companions both ordering the one meat dish on the menu, a veal saltimbocca that was fork tender and delicious, and my perfectly al dente spaghetti with smoky grilled sausage, chicory, and fontina cheese. The portions were good sized, the prices fair. The winelist is extensive and well-selected. They do have a slightly steep 30 peso a bottle corkage charge, but then, they’ve put a lot of effort into an excellent wine cellar, and no doubt they’d prefer folk don’t bring wine as we did – we had a bottle of Bodega Chacra 55 Pinot Noir 2007 we’d wanted to try – a pricey one at nearly 300 pesos normally. Disappointing actually – light, fruity cherry and raspberry flavors with a little smoke and bramble on it – pretty much an average Pinot, and certainly not worth the price, other than to have just checked it off the list, so to speak.

Overall, recommended for a very nice evening!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula November 27, 2008 at 18:09

I am one of the firm devotees of Guido’s Bar and I say it without embarassment or justification as I don’t consider myself to be an absolute idiot or philistine for liking it (as the analogy to Little Italy might suggest). I agree that Lucky Luciano serves fantastic food. However, it is a much stuffier place and you are stuck with one dish, however good that might be which is not always what I fancy. Guido’s Bar is also my local, round the corner from my place. Carlos knows all the neighbours and makes sure you are well tended to when you go. The food, not just for me but for all my friends and family members who have been, is simple yet beautifully made and I always find that they bring me a lot more than I can eat so I cannot relate to your experience at all. I respect yur opinion but I think you should respect that of many people who love it as it is as valuable. After all, personal taste is subjective and no one is better than the next.

dan November 27, 2008 at 23:07

Paula, it really comes down to a simple thing, and I don’t at all mean this to be rude, but, this is my blog, that I pay for, and is a journal of my personal experiences and opinions – it’s not at all meant to be objective, it’s intended to be completely subjective. So, while you are correct that personal taste is subjective, this particular website is about my personal taste – not anyone else’s. It doesn’t mean I won’t listen to other’s opinions, in fact that’s why I went back to Guido’s to see if I’d just hit an off-day the first time. So either I’ve hit two off-days (and quite a few friends here apparently have too – within my social circle I only know one person who likes the place) or… well, I’ve already expressed my opinion on the place and stand by it. And, by the way, given that it is just my opinion, which as you note is no better than anyone else’s, there’s no reason that you should feel embarassment or a need to justify yourself.

For me, while I enjoy having a sort of “grazing” experience, i.e., multiple plates to sample from, I don’t enjoy it when virtually all of them are mediocre.

On the flip side, I can’t say that I found Lucky Luciano at all stuffy – it was a completely relaxed, casual experience – perhaps because we were in the garden and not the dining room – with, as you put it, simple yet beautifully made food, we chatted with our waitress, the wine guy, and one of the owners, we felt completely at ease – and, just as much food cost 2/3 of what it does around the corner. One of the things you noted was that Carlos knows the neighbors, the regulars, and takes care of them – perhaps he just doesn’t do so with others….

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