Thursday, December 01, 2005

Paging Uncle Vito: They Need Your Help At Carnegie Hall

(Advance for Saturday 12/3/05)

Well… not exactly at Carnegie Hall, but near enough.

Vito knows how to run a Jewish deli. Or, more accurately, Unc knew how to run a regular deli in a Jewish neighborhood, like here in the South End of Picturesque Moote Pointe, NY.

But evidently, those at the Famous Mile High Sandwichery in mid-town Manhattan do not.

Here’s where you pay extra to taken an insult or two from the waiter. Where you go for the purest sourest sour dill pickles north of the lower east side. Where you go to watch the real life celebs whose black and white pictures hang on the wall.

Or where you used to.

Seattle Slim was back east for maybe the first or second time in 30 years or so. Here to celebrate his divorce by buying a Bentley. Or was it a Rolls. Or maybe an Audi. Something neo-German, in any case.

Slim met his friends at the Famous Mile High Sandwichery, his choice for the corned beef on rye.

Party of three. No reservation. Crowded, but not mobbed.

Slim is running late. Well, walking at a brisk-pace-late. At Slim’s age you don’t run anything.

The rest are at the Famous. The “hostess” tells us we can’t be seated until our entire party is there. This is a good start, if you like the floor show, which is being insulted by the waiter.

We are thrilled. But we fight back, and eventually get a table in a little room you can’t see from the front of the store. Private, kind of. Elbow-to-elbow private. Only after the hostess asks us who we think we are to request (and later demand) seats.

Slim shows up a bit later, wanders through the private room and wanders out. He doesn’t know what we look like (it’s been more than 30 years.) We don’t know what HE looks like (Same reason.)

Some cell phone calls later, he finds us at our elbow-to-elbow private room.

We share a sandwich. It really IS a mile high. But the waiter is a gentleman. No disagreement with our choice. No “Don’t Have That Sandwich, it’s lousy tonight.” No “what’s the matter with you? You NEED the fries.”

No. The Fries are fried in cholesterol-free oil. They are also flavor-free. The pickles are half sour. HALF sour? At the Famous?!

The coleslaw is crisp. It’s supposed to be soggy and crusted.

For this Slim travels 3,000 miles?

Gentrification foe the benefit of the yuppie tourist baby boomers. A concession to their health obsession, which really is an immortality obsession.

At least the sandwich is a mile high. And delicious.

Except for the third member of this trio, The Empress From Taipei. She doesn’t like meat and has agreed to this meal only because she is outnumbered.

She has spaghetti.

It is crisp. Like the coleslaw.

Instead of telling her “what do you want, this is the Famous Sandwichery, not Alfino’s. You want soggy spaghetti, go to Ray’s Famous Pizza. Here that’s what you get,” the waiter politely offers to bring it back to the kitchen for further cooking.

Vito wouldn’t have done that.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2005


John G said...

Manhattan is supposed to mean the best, the most sophisticated, the most advanced, the bigtime. It oughta be a verb. And there oughta be some kinda policing for when it don't live upta that. It should also import Uncle Vito and other outsiders who do live upta it. And then it should franchise all that out.

John G said...

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