700 Irving St @ 8th Ave.
phone: 415.661.2140
hours: Sun-Thu noon-midnight, Fri-Sat noon-1am
Italian, Pizzeria
Wine and Beer

This place deserves a term like "infamous" or "notorious" or "the way dinner's supposed to be." I'm not actually sure it's any of those things, but the combination of huge tasty portions and finely greased service makes me think the rest of the restaurant dives are missing the boat.

Oh yeah, and the rumbling every so often of the street cars going by made me feel like I was in the oh-ignore-it-it's-just-an-earthquake scene in L.A. Story.

The Ambience:
Yeah, you're not there for the ambience. Something about the interrogation-room lighting and the strange enormous framed Coliseum might intrigue you if you're easily intrigued. Generally, it's just what you'd expect from a diner-Italian-Pizzeria-style joint. Two rooms, thin carpets, flimsy silverware, cheap tables, chili flakes and Parmesan for all. Classic, no frills, no problem.

ExceptÉI think there was a mysteriously invisible jukebox somewhere from which occasional 80's epic ballads were being projected onto us. That could potentially be a problem.

The Menu:
Bang for your buck, baby. They've got it all here: your fried appetizers, salads, pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, chicken stuff, veal stuff, seafood stuff and desserts. And it's cheap. Remember that. Say what you (or I) will about the rest of it, this place is cheap.

The Food:
First off, lemme say that I didn't get a pizza, but by God did they look good. Crispy, hot and loaded with toppings. I can't remember the last time I went OUT for pizza, but if you're gonna do it, go here.

We split a caesar salad, which was enormous and loaded with tasty dressing and homemade croutons. I had chicken Parmesan, which was falling off the plate. Literally, it was the size of three portions. My partner in crime indulged in spaghetti with clams. After half an hour of eating, it still looked like she hadn't touched it. This food was hard to make a dent in.

Which is okay, cause it was damn good.

The Service:
Grifter. Say it with me boys and girls, and keep an eye on your money. I was duly impressed with our waitress throughout the meal. She handled at least ten tables with competence and ease. For some reason, she brought my side of pasta with the salad, but maybe that's Pasquale's tradition or something.

She also spent a fair amount of time describing how horny her dog was, detailing what he was trying to mount and demonstrating his motions. Um, no.

The grift came at the end of the night, when we paid with cash. Not finding it necessary to leave a 35% tip, despite my rule of magnanimous tipping, we waited for change. She counted out, grabbed her purse and left with all our money without once looking back. Smooooth.

Reservations: No way.

Overall: B+
No pretenses, but if you know what you're getting into, it hits the spot.

Reviewed : Jan 2004

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