In my adopted home of Turks and Caicos (I’m not worthy) there’s a little famous place called The Conch Shack, nicely situated right on the beach. Its an island institution of sorts, appearing on various “best Caribbean shack” lists and quite popular with tourists and locals alike. The same fame also means an occasional “Tourist Trap” tag given by visitors with less than stellar experiences. A rather unfitting tag considering the establishment lacks the number one ingredient for a “tourist trap”… location. To get to the Conch Shack visitors need to hire a car, or take an expensive cab ride. There are other reasons why the Conch Shack is far from a tourist trap, like the constant need to protect a reputation, but the bottom line as far as I’m concerned is location, location, location.
Times Square and much of Midtown Manhattan is on the other end of the spectrum. As tourism continues the steady yearly rise, rents continue to skyrocket, and restaurateurs need to stay on top of the tourist game. In a sea of establishments that are strictly in the business of making tourists happy (think today’s Little Italy), there are plenty of reputable establishments that can’t afford to release clunkers out of their kitchens. Spots like Ma Peche, Marea, Betony may not satisfy everyone, but you get the sense they care about every single dish they put on the table. Up until last weekend I thought Quality Italian and Quality Meats were in that same company.
It took about 5 minutes to realize that I’m sitting in a slightly fancier, tourist filled Rosa Mexicana. Except that in RM I would be attended to initially without asking for it. For the 5 of us this evening, we opted to share a yellowtail crudo (good, though I prefer the flat skinny cuts over cubes), Ricotta (very good), a few pastas, one steak and the world famous chicken parm shaped like a 12 inch pizza pie.
The Bucatini & Clams was actually quite good. Covered by a rich, pleasantly peppery ragu with potatoes. But it comes with a price tag, $33, which is $11 more than the listed online price (at the time of this writing showing $22). Same price discrepancy with the Agnolotti and the rest of the pastas, not so much with other items on the menu
On occasion we do see price discrepancies between actual and online menus, but not quite to this 50% extreme. Perhaps I dont frequent mega touristy area restaurants often enough, but how the hell do they get away with this. Whether this is a mistake or not, after several tries I have not given any explanations from Quality Meats representatives. The closest to that was a “Oooh really, we’ll let our marketing dep’t know”
On top of that I was not even given the opportunity for redemption. A bone-in filet was dry and flavorless. Dont believe me? ask my 13 year steak aficionado daughter who picked up on that before I took my first bite. A recall a similar cut at Del Frisco’s nearby that was much more successful. At a place known for their ways with the meat, this was as shocking as the pasta-gate.
The legendary Chicken Parm has been talked about since QI opened. Bloggers, Yelpers, Eater, children books written about this famous dish. The cost: $64. The verdict: It tastes approx $10 better than Mrs Ziggy’s version. Its a decent bite initially, but the sweetness of the sauce takes charge before you even finish the first slice. And if the sauce is not sweet enough, among an arsenal of condiments to justify the cost, you also get honey.
As we say bye bye to 2015, let this post be the beginning of the new and
angrier improved Eating With Ziggy. The reason I finally got to experience Quality Italian was because I was looking at something to eat before the new musical School of Rock and seeing the new tree which to me looks exactly the same as the previous 30. And if there’s one thing I learned from School of Rock is that when the time comes, sometimes, you just gotta STICK IT TO THE MAN!
57 W 57th St
Recommended Dishes: Ricotta