Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cafe Rustico II: "What a shitstorm."

I'm not sure where to begin this entry, but I'll start on Saturday morning. I woke up and my computer still wouldn't turn on. I was hell of stressed because I was counting on it deciding to work again so I could update the website during my unbelievably slow early morning bar shift. I brought it to the bar anyway, in hopes that it would work eventually, but it just served as a constant physical reminder that I am an irresponsible scumbag and I made my bed in shit so I better get comfortable. As the morning progressed, a few customers trickled in to watch whatever football game was on, but mostly I just had free time to stress myself out. This stress was compounded by the fact that my prospective pizza partner for that afternoon asked for a rain check so that he could attend the Mermaid Parade. I don't blame him and I'm not mad at all! It's a hell of a spectacle and he just moved to New York and if you're not a bitter, cynical fuckface like me it's a perfectly good thing to do with your time. I was scrambling to find someone to come along with me when I texted Chuck, who replied, "I'd love to, but all I can think about is the beach."

And that's when it hit me: Fuck stressing out over bullshit. I am going to go in the ocean. So I got out of work and went to Rockaway. Fucking, let me tell you, it was great! Afterwards, there was a barbecue on Chuck's roof and then a show downstairs. At the barbecue I ate two hotdogs, two burgers, two bratwurst, and two chicken legs. Plus I drank two liters of seltzer, the greatest beverage ever. It was pretty awesome. Also, there was some peroxide blonde in a neon orange bikini on the adjacent roof doing some kind of fashion shoot with the Marcy Projects as a backdrop which is totally the most tacky thing ever and made me so mad. I was thinking about mooning the photographer, but instead I just talked about mooning the photographer. What I did do was take off all my clothes and pretend that I was having a fashion shoot too, and all my friends pretended to be fawning groupies, which wasn't hard because that's basically what they actually are!!

The show was great. Big Soda played, Bender's new band whose name I forgot again played (someone remind me so I can replace this with a link!), and Shitty Darkness and Hot New Mexicans, both bands from Athens, both bands full of friends, closed out the night. Everyone had a blast and the show ended early so folks could go see The Reigning Sound, but some folks stuck around and I spent a chunk of time talking with Ivy and my old friend Ella until I realized how late it was getting and decided to go find Patrick and Joe to say goodbye. They were in Chuck's room, where a half a dozen kids were passing around a bottle of poppers! Wow!

I had a stroke of genius which may or may not have been related to the "liquid incense" fumes and told them that if I got off work on Monday, and they were still in New York we should eat pizza together. Palms were spat, hands were shook, and thus a deal was made. On the way out I mentioned it to Ella and she was totally in!

So fast-forward through Sunday (happybirthdaybeckywisehappyfather'sdaydadiloveyou), I got that shift covered and Monday rolled around and I was waiting to meet up with Patrick and Joe. We were also planning on meeting Ella and my sister in the city for pizza eating. Kind of a bigger group than I prefer, but such is life, right? Before I invited my sister along, I had already written the intro for Ella, Joe and Patrick. It was going to go something like,
"Ella is an old friend of mine and super tough New Yorker, Joe loves talking about Murphy's Law and being on tour, and Patrick is a little man with a big, big heart...."
It kind of threw a wrench in the works that my sister was coming, because I was expecting her to come along in a week or two and get her own dedicated Slice Harvesting sojourn, but things don't always work out as we plan and everything ultimately works out alright. (To help myself accept this precept, I've decided to become a Hare Krishna!)

Well, when Joe and Patrick finally showed up to meet me, they were with an entourage of like, 4o dudes. Okay, it was only 4 other people, but plus me made 7, plus Ella and Emma made 9. And I had thought 5 total would be an unwieldy group. I began to wonder what I was getting myself into.

I learned the answer to that question pretty quickly when Max, one of the Athenians, got lost in the subway. We got out at 34th street and I told the others, "Welcome to the big city, you inbreds. You're lucky I even let you hang out with me. Now if you want to come get famous, walk with me, if you want to find your little friend stuck in the big scary subway, you can go ahead and do that. But I don't have all day to wait around. I'm having dinner with Shaq and Bill Clinton at Kim Kardashian's penthouse tonight."

I didn't really say that, but we did leave to eat pizza and just figure that Max would eventually call one of us. Which he did, which facilitated one of my favorite types of social interaction, The Triumphant Reunion. But that is a story for another day. Today, I am here to talk about Cafe Rustico II.

I'm gonna say this for every entry from this expedition, but I am not faulting the pizzamans in this place for being rude. If 9 idiots walked into my pizzeria (if I had a pizzeria) and ordered 3 slices between them, I'd probably be a little curt too. However, my sister, who goes here somewhat frequently because she often finds herself in the neighborhood, informs me that the dudes in this place actually acted totally normal. In fact, she told me, "I see the same two guys working behind the counter there every time I go and I have never heard them say a word to each other and they are always totally weird to me." Interesting.

The slice wasn't great, but it was good. I hadn't learned everyone's names yet when we were discussing it, and I was sitting too far from Patrick and Joe in the throngs of folks to hear what either of them had to say, so this review is just according to me, Ella and my sister.

The slice smelled great. Appreciating pizza smells is a quality shared by most of my family, so when my kid sis told me this slice smelled great, I knew it would. And it did. Totally tantalizing odor. The dough was really good. It was thicker than I generally prefer, but it was fluffy and airy. It was cooked through everywhere and the bottom had a perfect crunch. The cheese was top quality, it tasted like milkfat and cheese instead of chemicals and processed crap. The sauce was the only problem. It tasted a little bit sweeter than I like in this totally crappy way. Total HFCS scene up in Cafe Rustico II. But otherwise it's pretty stellar, I guess. In fact, if the sauce improved this slice would be totally awesome!


Cafe Rustico II - $2.75
25 West 35th Street (5th & 6th)
New York, NY 10001


  1. Are you sure about this? I mean, do you taste the slice before you sprinkle all that stuff on it?

    Because, I just went here and it was totally bland. No tang at all. Tomato flavor absent. Crust thick and hard with some weird powder on the bottom. Pure industrial midtown pizza made with no love of the pie. How is this anything better than average or worse?

  2. Thomas,

    I do think the dough on the slice that I had here was superb and the cheese tasted alright. The sauce was total crap and I said so. I think I gave it 5.5 stars instead of 4.5 stars because my kid sister likes it and I didn't want to bum her out, but that's just life. It's been amended and thanks for your vigilance, though I think we still disagree some.


  3. This place make a kick ass eggplant parm.