Fried Calamari & Organic Martini’s

The website for Lil’ Frankie’s Pizza, the brother restaurant of Frank’s in the east village, impressed me with pictures of a beautiful, serene setting and mouth-watering brick-oven pizza. That was the problem. Lil’ Frankie’s wasn’t bad pizza, but neither was it special. Kathleen, Jim and I waited a long time for our table, not that I minded–it was Friday night and waiting for a table in NYC is inevitable, but throughout the wait I was daydreaming about the delicious pizza I had viewed earlier on the web. When we were finally seated and had ordered, the “brick-oven” pizzas were brought out in fewer than ten minutes. They were hardly the crispy crusted, gooey cheesed delights I had hoped for. The Margherita pizza had a bit too many olives on it, and only a few basil leaves (none chopped up in the sauce.) The mozzarella was under-melted. The prosciutto and arugula pizza was particularly tasty, with deli-thin, not smoked, prosciutto but, alas, no arugula. The fried calamari was good, though anything fried is usually pretty damn good. The waitstaff at Lil’ Frankie’s were not very skilled, but they were hilarious. We asked our waiter a question while he was in the middle of running through the specials (a list longer than the menu) and he had a semi-malfunction and just continued mechanically reading offhis list. When a busboy handed Jim the Guinness he ordered and a glass, another waiter flew to out table, grabbed the glass out of Jim’s hand and started pouring it for him, saying “I just couldn’t let that happen.” However, while he poured, a dribble of guiness spilled onto Jim’s leg, unknowingly to the waiter. I can’t help thinking Jim would’ve been better off pouring the beer himself.

After pizza, we happened into a bar, Counter on 1st Ave.  The bar serves organic martinis with names like “The Angry Lesbian” and a basil-infused “Dirtiest Martini,” as well as organic wines. (For anyone who gets a headache drinking red wine–try organic.)  Talking to the bartender, we learned that its pretty damn hard to stock a bar with all organic liquors, and there were a good number of bottles at the bar.

The drinks were great, interesting and not cloyingly sweet like most trendy martinis.

Our favorite, a red wine infused-smoked pear vodka martini, called “Married in a Fever” (an allude to Johnny Cash) had shavings of ginger in it which, surprisingly, didn’t overpower the drink. The russet tastes of red wine and smoked pear mix wonderfully with the pungent ginger. The most interesting martini I have ever tasted. Truth be told, each drink was so interesting and delicious, I wanted to try them all (and left the bar rather loopy.) I think I’ll be taking initiative from “Counter” and making myself drinks with real, organic juice from now on. Maybe I can even get my hands on some organic vodka….


^Making of “Married in a Fever”

Lil’ Frankies: *

Counter Vegetarian Bistro and Organic Martini’s: ***

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