Wednesday, September 16, 2009

That Girl 21st Century Style

Today was one of those days when I felt as though I'd stepped into the 2009 version of "That Girl." You remember the show with Marlo Thomas - the first tv series about a single woman, living (and making it) pretty much on her own. Sure, she had the requisite handsome boyfriend ("Oh, Donald"), but her independence is what made an impression on a younger me. She had her own apartment in New York City, she was chasing her dream to be an actress, she wore cool clothes, and she had tons of kooky adventures!

In the Beth version, here's what TV Guide would have said about tonight's episode: After a busy, fulfilling day at work, the cool, independent chick takes herself out for a lovely meal at a hip and hot restaurant.

Continuing my Wednesday night Dine Outs, tonight I made a return visit to Alleia. It just opened in the spring, and is part of a restaurant group that includes the Meeting Place (where I ate two weeks ago). This part of the empire has zeroed in on a nouveau Italian cuisine - wood grilled pizzas as well as pasta dishes with a little twist.

I have actually eaten there before, at the beginning of the summer with friends. They all kept going on and on about much they loved it - and they've all been back several times since - but I was not impressed. I thought it was beautiful inside, but my food was, well, just ordinary. But since they all loved it, I was determined to give it another try, and to choose something a little more exciting than the pasta bolognese I'd had the last time.

I started with the arancini. I had tried this dish for the first time when I was in NYC in March, and I'd been trying to find a recipe to replicate it at home. Well, I don't need to look any more -I'll just go here! Arancini are deep fried rice balls - traditionally, risotto from the previous night is used. It's shaped into balls, a hunk of mozzarella is inserted, they're breaded and deep fried. Yum!! I followed those bites of heaven with a simple salad of field greens, apples and Gorgonzola. For my main course, I decided to go with one of their specialties: pizza cooked in their wood fired stove. I opted for the arugula, smoked mozzarella and prosciutto - their prosciutto is smoked on the premises, and was so good! A really large thin pizza - too much for me. I would have put a little less arugula on it, but...

It was a wonderful meal, I was so glad I tried Alleia again. The one thing that bothered me, though, was the absolute lack of other diners. I arrived at 5:30 - they had opened at 5 pm - and I was the only person in there besides the wait staff. A little before 6, two women came in and sat in the bar area; a little after 6, two businessmen came in and sat in the dining area. But by the time I left around 6:40, there were only 4 tables occupied. I hope this isn't a typical evening for them, because they surely won't last. Admittedly, it was a little early - but, on a weeknight I presume most people eat earlier than a weekend. One of the features of Alleia is their "community table." It bisects the dining room, a long table that seats 32. It would seem the perfect spot for a single diner to sit - you could meet and chat with other lovers of good food. As I sometimes worry about being a solo diner, imagine if I'd planned to dine at the community table - me and 31 empty seats!

When I left, I ran by the grocery store to pick up a few things for lunch. Being the new Ann Marie, I of course grabbed a bunch of flowers for myself. I like to think I was the envy of all the other shoppers - the cool chick treating herself to something pretty. Ahh...

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