Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moolah for mush: Gina La Fornarina

Gina La Fornarina (279 Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side)

Despite the fact it feels like you're sardine-packed into a party tent for a friend's kid sister's sweet sixteen, with garden furniture crammed so tightly you have to coordinate breathing patterns with the chair behind you, and bubble gum pink curtains that make you feel as though you're peeking up the crinoline of a prom dress from 1987... despite that, the food tastes decent. Marginal, at best. But when a salad, bruschetta, spaghetti with tomato sauce, lasagna, and a cranberry juice stacks up to a $90 lunch for two (that's right... not even a glass of wine), the food and service should certainly be a lot better than it was. It's outrageous considering the competition in the area... $20 less would have gotten us a three-course meal from a four-star kitchen at Nougatine at Jean-Georges just a few blocks down.

Check out the million dollar salad.  Yup, for $18 you can have a pinch of arugula, a few floppy discs of cheese, three slivers of avocado (not even a whole avocado), and a couple wedges of tomato.  

The only apparent reasonable dish in the restaurant is the bread service that arrives in a rustic paper bag.  So cute.  I was actually pretty eager to try the baked tagliolini with prosciutto, and I don't really recall asking the server's advice... but nonetheless, he interjected, "No, don't get that. Get something else..."

Don't get me wrong. The spaghetti pomodoro was tasty, but I don't care how you arrange boxed pasta, tomatoes, and a sprig of basil... $16 is never justifiable for such a simple dish... especially with such a puddle of pasta water sitting on the bottom of the plate.

The lasagna noodles were overcooked, and the plate was drowning in a rather bland bechamel... not a hint of red to be found. Almost like a saltless, butterless approximation of alfredo sauce blanketing two sheets of mushy pasta and a sauceless sloppy joe.

Bottom line: There are just too many great restaurants in the area to dine here again, unless you just want to throw your money into the wind.  And if that's the case, you can donate to this blog via the PayPal link on the right.

Gina La Fornarina on Urbanspoon

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