Web and IT professionals (should) spend a lot of time considering good usability. You know, can the user easily find what s/he is looking for? Are the labels clear and unconfusing? And so on.
But what would a usability study of some of New York’s nosh spots reveal? Could there be, perhaps, confusion when you place the original and the less expensive spin-off in close proximity? Take, for example, Nobu and Nobu Next Door; or Masa and Bar Masa.
Or, in a recent dining example, iTrulli’s Enoteca and side-by-side sibling iTruilli Ristorante. I got to enjoy a southern Italian meal with spirited company at the latter, that is after we located each other at “the other” bar.
It was an evening enjoyable as much for its company as its food. Four-plus hours after sitting down, we managed to close the place down.
The enjoyment of the evening was immeasurably increased by the opportunity to “speak in tongues.” For while we had as many languages as diners in our party, it was the chance to dissolve into Afrikaans — rather than Urdu, English, French or Italian.
iTrulli provided a good atmosphere for our banter, and I was very happy with my double-appetiser dinner strategy. To start, the Panelle, chickpea fritters with goat cheese and Sicilian caponata. The chevre could have been amped up a little for my taste, but the overall effect was palate pleasing, and the textures very enjoyable.
My antipasti masquerading as a main course did well. It was the Capesante, a bubbling presentation of succulently seared day boat sea ccallops over Apulian black chickpeas. Crusty bread proved a perfect foil for the fragrant chickpea broth.
But diner be warned: save room for dolce! The selection is inventive and drool-worthy. My original dessert desire was the Panzerotti (small Apulian calzones filled with Nutella). Unfortunately many diners had the same idea — frankly, how could anything involving Nutella not stimulate an instant ordering response?
But that gave me the chance to try the Savoiardi, which I highly recommend. This layered tower of dolce goodness alternates chocolate espresso soaked ladyfingers with mascarpone cream and is not to be missed.
It would have been the perfect pairing to a cappucino, if a good one was to be had. The one on offer was merely acceptable, somewhat ironic for a noteworthy Italian restaurant. But it hardly detracted from the enjoyment of the evening, and only served to raise a question in my mind: When did I morph into a cappucino snob? (The kernel of a global 6CC Cappucinometer is under development…)